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The Spirit of Laws 
Part 5 
Bayle's paradox 
M. Bayle claims to have proven that it is better to be an atheist than a 
idolater;  that is, in other terms, it is less dangerous to have no religion 
at all than to have a bad one. "I should prefer," he says, "for one to say 
of me that I do not exist, than for one to say that I am a wicked man." 
On the laws in their relation to the Thi is only a sophistry, founded on the fact that it is of no use to 
religion iestablished in each country, mankind for one to.believe that .a certain man exists, wh!le it is quite 
examined in respe.ct to its practices useful for one to beheve that god s. From the dea that he s not follows 
the dea of our independence or, if we cannot have this idea, that of our 
and within itself rebellion. To say that religion gives no motive for restraint because it 
does not always restrain is to say that the civil laws are not a motive for 
restraint either. It is to reason incorrectly against religion to collect in a 
large work a long enumeration of the evils it has produced, without also 
making one of the good things it has done. IfI wanted to recount all the 
evils that civil laws, monarchy, and republican government have 
produced in the world, I would say frightful things. Even if it were 
useless for subjects to have a religion, it would not be useless for 
princes to have one and to whiten with foam the only bridle that can 
hold those who fear no human laws. 
A prince who loves and fears religion is a lion who yields to the hand 
that caresses him or to the voice that pacifies him; the one who fears 
and hates religion is like the wild beasts who gnaw the chain that keeps 
them from throwing themselves on passers-by; he who has no religion 
at all is that terrible animal that feels its liberty only when it claws and 
It is not a question of knowing whether it would be better for a 
certain man or a certain people to be without religion than to abuse the 
one that they have, but of knowing which is the lesser evil, that one 
sometimes abuse religion or that there be none among men. 
In order to diminish the horror of atheism, one accuses idolatry too 
much. It is not true that, when the ancients raised altars to some vice, it 
meant that they l°Ved the vice; on the contrary, it meant that they hated 
it. When the Lacedaemonians raised a chapel to Fear, it did not mean 
that this bellicose nation begged fear to take possession of the hearts of 
 [Pierre Bayle] Penses diverses d l'occasion d'une cornte. [Consider Penses d/verses, chap. x45 
and Continuation des Penses d/verses, chap. x 44.] 
On religions in general 
Just as one can judge among shadows those that are the least dark, and abysses, those that are the least deep, so among the false 
rehgnons can one seek the ones that are the most in conformity with the 
good of society, the ones that, .though they do not have the effect of 
leading men to the felicities of the next life, can most contribute to their 
happiness in this one. 
Therefore, I shah examine the various religions of the world only in 
relation to the good to be drawn from them in the civil state, whether I 
speak of the one whose roots are in heaven or of those whose roots are 
in the earth. 
As in this work I am not a theologian but one who writes about 
politics, there may be things that would be wholly true only in a human 
way of thinking, for they have not been at all considered in relation to 
the more sublime truths. " 
With regard to the true religion, the slightest fairness will show that I 
have never claimed to make its interests cede to political interests, but 
to unite them both; now, in order to unite them, they must be known. 
The Christian religion, which orders men to love one another, no 
doubt wants the .best political laws and the best civil laws for each 
people, because those laws are, after it, the greatest good men can give 
and receive. 
459 46o 
The religion established in each country 
the Lacedaemonians in battle. There were divinities who were asked 
not to inspire crime and others who were asked to turn it away. 
I I 
right of nations in war, for which human nature can never be suffi- 
ciently grateful. 
This fight of nations, among ourselves, has the result that victory 
leaves to the vanquished these great things: life, liberty, laws, goods, 
and always religion, when one does not blind oneself. 
One can say that the peoples of Europe today are no more disunited 
That. m. oderate government is better suited to the Chstian than were the peoples' and the armies, or the a .r.'es themselves, in the 
Roman .Empire when it became despotic and nuhtary; on the one hand, 
rehgon, and despotic government to Mohammedamsm the armies waged war with one another, and, on the other, they were 
The Christian religion is remote from Pure despotism; the gentleness 
so recommended in the gospel stands opposed to the despotic fury with 
which a prince would mete out his own justice and exercise his 
As this religion forbids having more than one wife, princes here are 
less confined, less separated from their subjects, and consequently 
more human; they are more disposed. to give laws to themselves and 
more capable of feeling that they cannot do everything. 
Whereas Mohammedan princes constantly kill or are killed, among 
Christians religion makes princes less timid and consequently less 
cruel. The prince counts on his subjects, and the subjects on the 
prince. Remarkably, the Christian religion, which seems to have no 
other object than the felicity of the other life, is also our happiness in 
this one! : 
In spite of the size of the Ethiopian empire and the vice of its climate, 
the Christian religion has kept despotism from being established there 
and has carried the mores and laws of Europe to the middle of Africa. 
The crown prince of Ethiopia enjoys a principality and gives his 
subjects an example of love and obedience. Not far from there, one sees 
Mohammedanism enclose the children of the king of Sannar; at the 
king's death, the council sends them off to be slaughtered in favor of 
the one who mounts the throne? 
Let us envisage, on the other hand, the continual massacres of the 
kings and leaders of the Greeks and Romans, and on the other, the 
destruction of peoples and towns by Tamefiane and Genghis Khan, 
the very leaders who ravaged Asia, and we shall see that we. owe to 
Christianity both a.certain political right in government and a certain 
ZPoncet, "Relation abrg& du voyage que M. Charles Jacques Poncet, Mdecin franqais, 
fit en Ethiopie en x698, x699, et x 7oo," inLettres Mifiantes et curieuses, vol. 4 [4, 29o--9I; 
I7OO edn]. 
allowed to take the sP0ils of the towns and to divide or confiscate the 
I I 
Consequences of the character of the Christian religion 
and of that of the Mohammedan religion 
From the character of the Christian religion and that of the Moham- 
medan religion, one should, without further examination, embrace the 
one and reject the other, for it is much more evident to us that a religion 
should soften the mores of men than it is that a religion is true. 
It is a misfortune for human nature when religion is given by a 
conqueror. The Mohammedan religion, which speaks only with a 
sword, continues to act on men with the destructive spirit that founded 
The history ofSabaco, 3 one of the pastoral kings, is remarkable. The 
god of Thebes appeared to him in a dream and ordered him to put to 
death all the princes of Egypt. He judged that the gods were no longer 
pleased for him to reign because they ordered him to do things so 
contrary to their usual will, and he withdrew into Ethiopia. 
3See Diodorus Siculus, bk. z [Bibliotheca historica x.65.5-8 ]. 
46x 462 
The religion established in each country 
That the Catholic rel!g!on better suits a monarchy and that 
the Protestant rehgon is better adpted to a republic. 
When a religion is born and is formed in a state, it usually follows the 
plan of the government in which it is established, for the men who 
accept it and those who make it accepted entertain scarcely any ideas 
about the.police other than those of the state in which they were born. 
When, two centuries ago, the Christian religion .suffered the 
unfortunate division that divided it into Catholic and Protestant, the 
peoples of the north embraced the Protestant religion and those of the 
south kept the Catholic. 
This is because the peoples ofthe north have and will always have a 
spirit of independence and liberty that the peoples of the south do not, 
and because a religion that has no visible leader is better suited to the 
independence fostered by the climate than is the religion that has one. 
In the very countries in which the Protestant religion was 
established, revolutions were made on the plan of .the political state. As 
the great princes were on his side, Luther could scarcely have given 
them a taste for ecclesiastical authority without outward preeminence, 
and as the people who lived in republics and the obscure townsmen 4 of 
the monarchies were on his side, Calvin could easily avoid establishing 
preeminences and dignities. 
Each of these two religions could believe itself the' most perfect: 
Calvinism considering itself more in conformity with what Jesus had 
said, and Lutheranism, with what the Apostles had done. 
" bourgeois. 
Another of Bayle paradoxes 
Bayle, after insulting all religion, stigmatizes the Christian religion; he 
dares propose that a state formed by true Chistians would not continue 
to exist. Why not? They would be citizens infinitely enlightened about 
their duties and having a very great zeal to perform them; they would 
sense the rights of natural defense; the more they believed they owed to 
the religion, the more ey would think they owed to the homeland. 
The principles of Christianity, engraved in their hearts, would be 
infinitely stronger than the false honor of monarchies, the human 
virtues of republics, or that servile fear of despotic states. 
It is astounding that one can impute to this great man a .misunder? 
standing of the spirit of his own religion, an inability to distinguish the 
orders for the establishment of. Christianity from Christianity itself, 
and the. precepts of the gospel from their counsels. When e legislator, 
instead of giving laws, has given counsels, it is because he has seen that 
his counsels, if they were ordained like laws, would be contrary to the 
spirit of the laws. 
On, the laws of perfiction religion 
Human'laws. made to speak to the spirit should give precepts and no 
counsels at all; religion, made to speak to the heart, should give many 
counsels and few precepts. 
When, for example, it gives rules, not for the good but for the better, 
not for what is good but for what is perfect, it is suitable for these to be 
counsels and not laws, for perfection does not concern men or things 
universally. Moreover, if these are laws, there will have to be an infinity 
of others so that the first ones will be observed. Celibacy was a.counsel 
of Christianity; when it was made into a law for a certain order of 
people, new laws had to be made every day in order to bring men to 
observe the first one? The legislator fired himself, he fired the society, 
making men execute by precept what those who love perfection would 
have executed by counsel. 
4See the Biblioth?que des auteurs ecclisiastiques, vol. 5, by [Louis Ellies] Dupin [5, i i4-x  5, 
xz9; 69x edn]. 
463 464 
The religion established in each country 
On the agreement of the laws of morality 
with those of religion 
In a country where one has the misfortune of having a religion not given 
by god, it is always necessary for it to be in agreement with morality, 
because religion, even a false one, is the best warrant men can haye of 
the integrity of men. 
The principal points of the religion of the people of Pegu are not to 
kill, not to steal, to avoid immodesty, ' to cause no displeasure to one's 
fellow man, and instead, to do him all the good one can. 5 Further, they 
believe that one will be saved in any religion whatever; this makes these 
peoples, though they are proud and poor, show gentleness and 
compassion to unfortunates. 
5Recueil des voyages qui ont servi d lYtablissement de la Compagnie des Indes, vol. 3, pt. x, 
P. 63 ["Relation du second voyage d'Etienne van der Hagen"; 3, 63; 725 edn]. 
I I 
On the Essenes 
The Essenes 6 took an oath to observe justice toward men, to do no 
harm to anyone even in order to obey, to hate unjust men, to keep faith 
with everyone, to command with modesty, always to take the side of the 
truth, and to flee all illicit.gain.  
6 [Humphrey] Prideaux, The Old andNew Testament Connected in theHistory of the Jews [bk. 5, 
ann. xo7 s.c.; 2, 326; x83x edn. Prideaux is quoting Josephus, De bellojudaico -.x-]. 
I I I 
On the Stoic sect 
The various sects of philosophy among the ancients could be con- 
sidered as kinds of religion. There has never been one whose principles 
were more worthy of men and more appropriate for forming good men 
than that of the Stoics, and, ifI could for a moment cease to think that I 
am a Christian, I would not be able to keep myself from numbering the 
destruction of Zeno's sect among the misfortunes of human kind. 
It exaggerated only those things in which there is greatness: scorn for 
pleasures and pains. 
It alone knew how to make citizens; it alone made great men; it alone 
made great emperors. 
Let us momentarily lay aside the revealed truths; seek in all of nature 
and you will find no greater object than the Antonines; Julian even, 
Julian (a vote thus wrenched from me will not make me an accomplice 
to his apostasy); no, since him there'has been no prince more worthy of 
governing men. 
While the Stoics considered wealth, human greatness, suffering, 
sorrows, and pleasures to be vain things, they were occupied only in 
working for men's happiness and in exercising the duties of society; it 
seemed that they regarded the sacred spirit which they believed to be 
within themselves as a kind of favorable providence watching over 
Born for society, they all believed that their destiny was to work for it; 
it was the less burdensome as their rewards were all withi n themselves; 
as, happy in their philosophy alone, it seemed that only the happiness of 
others could increase their own. 
On contemplation 
Men, being made to preserve, feed and clothe themselves, and to do all 
the things done in society, religion should not give them an overly 
contemplative life. 7 
Mohammedans become speculative by habit; they pray five times a 
day, and each time they must do something that makes them turn their 
backs on all that belongs to this world: this forms them for speculation. 
Add to this the indifference toward all things given by the dogma of an 
inflexible destiny. 
If, moreover, other causes concur to inspire their detachment, as 
7This is the defect in the doctrine of Foi and of Laockium. 
465 466 
The religion established in each country 
when the harshness of the government or of the laws concerning the 
ownership of land gives a spirit of uncertainty, all is lost. 
The religion of the Ghebers formerly caused the kingdom of Persia 
to flourish; it corrected the bad effects of despotism: today the 
Mohammedan religion destroys that same empire. 
On penances 
It is well for penances to be joined with the idea of work, not with the 
idea of idleness; with the idea of the good, not with the idea of the 
extraordinary; with the idea of frugality, not with the idea of avarice. 
On inexpiable crimes 
From a passage in the books of the pontiffs reported by Cicero, 8 it 
seems that among the Romans there were inexpiable crimes? and it is 
on this that Sozomen bases the account that so nicely poisons the 
motives of Constantine's conversion, and on this that Julian bases his 
bitter mockery of that conversion in his Caesars. b 
The pagan religion, which prohibited only some glaring crimes, 
which checked the hand and abandoned the heart, could have inexpi- 
able crimes; but a religion that envelops all the passions, that is no more 
jealous of acts than of desires and thoughts, that attaches us not by 
some few chains, but by innumerable threads, that leaves human 
injustice behind to begin another justice, that is made in order to lead 
constantly from repentance to love and from love to repentance, that 
puts a great mediator between the judge and the criminal, a great judge 
between the just man and the mediator: such a religion should not have 
8[Cicero] De/egibus, bk. 2 [2.22]. 
9"A profanation which cannot be expiated will be deemed to be committed impiously; that 
which can be expiated will be expiated by the public priest" [L.] [Cicero, De legibm z.z2]. 
bJulianus Apostata, emperor of Rome, A.D. 33 -363, Caesares 336. 
inexpiable crimes. But, though it gives fears and expectations to all, it 
makes them feel sufficiently that if there is no crime that is inexpiable 
by its nature, yet a whole life can be so; that it would be very dangerous 
to harry mercy constantly with new crimes and new expiations; that, 
troubled over old debts, never settled with the lord, we should fear 
contracting new ones, overfilling the cup and reaching the point at 
which paternal goodness ends. 
How thejbrce of religion bears on that of the civil laws 
As religion and the civil laws should aim principally to make good 
citizens of men, one sees that when either of these departs from this 
end, the other should aim more toward it; the less repressive religion is, 
the more the civil laws should repress. 
Thus, in Japan, as the dominant religion has almost no dogmas and 
proposes neither paradise nor hell, the laws, in order to supplement it, 
have been made with an extraordinary severity and have been executed 
with an extraordinary punctiliousness. 
When religion establishes the dogma of the necessity' of human 
actions, the penalties of the laws should be more severe and the police 
more vigilant so that men, who without them would let themselves go, 
will base their decisions on these other motives; but if the religion 
establishes the dogma of liberty, it is something else again. 
From laziness of the soul arises the Mohammedan dogma of 
predestination, and from this dogma of predestination is born laziness 
of the soul. One has said, it is decreed by god, so one must rest. Ifi such 
a case, the laws Should arouse men made drowsy by the religion. 
When religion condemns things that civil laws should permit, there 
is the danger that civil laws will permit on their side what the religion 
should condemn, as one of the things always indicates a defect in the 
harmony and precision of ideas, which spreads to the other.  
Thus the Tartars of Genghis Khan, for whom it was a sin and even a 
capital crime to put a knife into the fire, to lean on a whip, to beat a 
horse with his bridle, or to break one bone with another' believed there 
was no sin in violating faith, ravishing the goods of others, injuring a 
467 468 
The religion established in each country 
man, or killing him. i° In a word, laws that cause what is indifferent to be 
regarded as necessary have the drawback of causing what is necessary 
to be considered as indifferent. 
The Formosans believe in a kind of hell,  but it is for punishing 
those who have failed to go naked in certain seasons, who have worn 
clothing of linen and not of silk, who have gathered oysters,  and who 
have acted without consulting the songs of birds; thus they do not 
regard drunkenness and licentiousness with women as a sin; they even 
believe that the debauchery of their children is pleasing to the gods. 
When religion justifies an accidental thing, it uselessly loses the 
greatest spring there is among men. It is believed among the Indians 
that the waters of the Ganges have a sanctifying virtue; z those who die 
on its banks are reputed t6 be exempt from the penalties of the other life 
and supposed to live in a region of delights; urns full of the ashes of the 
dead are sent from the most distant places to be thrown into the 
Ganges. What does it matter if one lives virtuously, or not? One will 
have oneself thrown into the Ganges.. 
The idea of a place of reward necessarily brings with it the idea of a 
region of penalties, and when one hopes fo r the former without fearing 
the latter, civil laws no longer have any force. Men who believe in the 
certainty of rewards in the 'next life will escape the legislator; they will 
have too much scorn for death. How can one constrain by the laws a 
man who believes himself sure that the greatest penalty the magistrates 
can inflict on him will end in a moment only to begin.his happiness? 
°See the account by Jean Du Plan Carpin, sent to Tartary by Pope Innocent IV in 1246 
[Recua'l de voyages au Nord, "Relation du voyage de Jean du Plan Carpin"; 7, 339-34o; 
I7Z 5 edn]. 
Recueil des voyages qui ont seroi d l'itablissement de la Compagnie des Indes, vol. 5, pt. I, p. x9 z 
["Relation de l'tat de l'isle Formose, crite par George Candidus"; 5, o3-o5; x7o6 
edn; 5,  9z; 7z5 edn]. 
2Lettresidifiates et curieuses, vol. x 5 [Lettre de P. Bouchet, Pondichry, April x79;  5, x 3; 
7zz edn]. 
How the civil laws sometimes correa false religions 
Respect for ancient things and simplicity or superstition have 
sometimes established mysteries or ceremonies that could run counter 
to modesty, and examples of this have not been rare in the world. 
Aristotle says that in this case the law permits fathers of families to go to 
the temple to celebrate these mysteries in the place of their wives and 
children. 3 A remarkable civil law, that preserves the mores from 
religion! - 
Augustus forbade young people of both sexes to attend any nighttime 
ceremony unless they were accompanied by an older relative, TM and 
when he reestablished the Lupercalian festival, he did not want the 
young people to run about naked. 5 
13[Aristotle] PoL, bk. 7, chap. x 7 [1336bx7-x9]. 
14Suetonius, Vitae duodedm Caesarera, Augustus, chap. 31 [3x.4]. 
5 Ibid. [Suetonius, Vitae duodedm Caesarera, Augustus 3 x.4.] 
How the laws of religion correa the deas 
of the political constitution 
On the other hand, religion can sustain the political state when the laws 
are powerless. 
Thus, when the state is often agitated by civil wars, religion wil! do 
▀ much if it/stablishes that some part of the state always remain at peace. 
Among the Greeks, the Eleans, as priests of Apollo, enjoyed an eternal 
peace. In Japan, the' town of Meaco,  a holy town, is always left in 
peace; 6 religion maintains this regulation; and that empire, which 
seems to be alone on the earth, which has and wants to have no 
6Recudl des voyages qui ont seroi i l'itablissement de la Compagnie des Indes, vol. 4, pt. x, p x27 
["Voyage de l'Amiral Pierre Willemsz, voyage auJapon"; 4, x 33; x7o5 edn; 4, x26; 1725 
469 47o 
The religion established in each country 
recourse to foreigners, always has within itself a commerce that war 
does not ruin. 
In the states where wars are not waged by a common deliberation 
and where the laws have not kept for themselves any means of 
termMating or preventing the TM, religion establishes times of peace or 
truce, so that the people can do the things, such as harvesting and 
similar work, without which the state could not continue to exist. 
Every year for four months, all hostilities would cease between the 
Arab tribes; 7 the slightest disturbance would have been an impiety. 
When each lord in France waged war or made peace, religion provided 
truces which were to occur at certain seasons. 
relatives of the dead man, gives himself up to his fury, wounding and 
killing everything he meets? 
Recueil des voyages qui ont semi d l'itablissement de la Compagnie des Indes, vol. 7, P. 303 
["Relation du premier voyage des Hollandais"; x, 39x-39z; 7o5 edn; , 354; 17z5 edn]. 
See also Comte Claude de Forbin, Mimoires [686; 74, 368-389; 899 edn], and what he 
says about the Macassars. 
How the laws of religion have the ect of civil laws 
7See [Humphrey] Prideaux, The True Nature of Imposture Fully Displayed in the Li of 
Mohamet, p. 64 [p. 67; x7x8 Eng. edn]. 
Continuation of the same subject 
When there are many grounds for hatred in a state, religion must give 
many means for reconciliation. The Arabs, a bandit people, often did 
harm or injustice to one another. Mohammed made this law: 8 "If 
someone forgives the shedding of his brother's blood, 19 he will be able 
to pursue the malefactor for damages and interest, but any one who 
harms the wicked man after receiving satisfaction from him will suffer 
grievous torments on judgment day." 
Among the Germans, hatreds and enmities were inherited from 
one's near relations, but these were not eternal. Homicide was expiated 
by giving a certain quantity of livestock, and the whole family received 
satisfaction; a very useful thing, says Tacitus, z° because enmities are 
The first Greeks were small, often scattered, peoples, pirates on the 
sea, unjust on land, without a police and without laws. The fine actions 
of Hercules and Theseus make clear the condition of this nascent 
people. What could religion do to give a horror of murder other than 
what it did? It established that a man killed by violence was instantly 
angry with the murderer, that he inspired distress and terror in the 
murderer and wanted him to give up those places he had frequented; 22 
one could neither touch the criminal nor converse with him without 
being tainted or being disqualified from making a testament; TM the 
town had to be protected from the presence of the murderer and had to 
be purified. 24 
22Plato, Laws, bk. 9 [865 d-e]. 
23See the tragedy [Sophocles] Oedipus at Colonus [e.g. 443-444]. 
24plato, Laws, bk. 9 [865d-866b]. 
part in these reconciliations. 
Among the Malayans, where reconciliation is not established, he 
who has killed someone, sure of being murdered by the friends or 
dSee 5.5 (note c, bk. 5). 
more dangerous among a free people. I believe indeed that the That it is less the truth orJMsiy of a dogma that 
ministers of religion, who had so much influence. among them, took makes it useful orpernidous to men in the civil state 
than the use or abuse made of it 
Sln the Koran, bk. x, "The Cow" [z.x78]. 
9By renouncing the law of retaliation. [Cf. bk. 6, chap.  9.] 
Z°[Tacitus] Germania [zx ]. 
The truest and most saintly dogmas can have very bad consequences 
when they are not bound with the principles of society, and, on the 
other hand, the falsest dogmas can have remarkable consequences 
when they are made to relate to those same principles. 
47x 47z 
The religion established in each country 
The religion of Confucius denies the immortality of the soul, z5 and 
the sect of Zeno did not believe in it. Who would say it? From their bad 
principles these two sects drew consequences that were not just, but 
were admirable for society. The religion of Tao and Foi? believes in the 
immortality of the soul, but from such a saintly dogma they have drawn 
frightful consequences. 
Almost everywhere in the world, and in all times, the opinion that the 
soul is immortal, wrongly taken, has engaged women, slaves, subjects, 
and friends to kill themselves in order to go to the next world and serve 
the object of their respect or their love. Thus it was in the West Indies; 
thus it was among the Danes; z6 and so is it still today in Japan, 27 
Makasar,ZSfand in many other places on earth. 
These customs emanate directly less from the dogma of the 
immortality of the s°ul than from that ofth. e resurrection o. fthe body; a 
consequence has been drawn from this that after hs death an 
individual would have the same needs, the same feelings, and the same 
passions as before. From this point of view, the dogma of the 
immortality of the soul affects men prodigiously, because the idea of a 
simple change of abode can more nearly be grasped by our minds and is 
more flattering to our hearts than the idea of a new mode. 
It is not enough for a religion to establish a dogma; it must also direct 
it. This is what the Christian religion has done remarkably Well with 
regard to the doghaas we have. mentioned; it makes us hope for a state 
that we believe in, not a state that we feel or that we know; everything, 
including the resurrection of the body, leads us to spiritual ideas. 
25 A Chinese philosopher argues thus against the doctrine of Fo& "It is said in a book of this 
sect that our body is our house and the soul, the immortal host living in it; but if the body of 
our parents is only a dwelling, it is natural to consider it with the same disdain that one has 
for a pile ofmud and dirt. Does this not intend to uproot from the heart the virtue of loving 
one's parents? This also leads to neglecting the care of the body and refusing to it the 
compassion and necessary for its preservation; thus the disciples of F0i kill 
themselves by the thousands." "Dialogue d'un philosophe Chinois," in the collection by 
Father [Jean Baptiste] d u Halde [Description de l'Empire de la Chine], vol. 3, P. 5 2 [3, 6 x-62 
H; 3, 5 P; 3, :7 L]. 
26See Thomas Bartholin, Antiquitatum Danicamm de causis contemptae a Danis adhuc 
gentilibus mortis [689]. 
27 Account of Japan, in the Recue# des voyages qui ont semi d IYtablissement de !a Compagnie des 
Indes ["Relation de I'dtat de I'isle Formose, crite par George Candidus"; 5, o3-o5, 
x7o6 edn; 5, 9z; x725 edn]. 
28[Comte Claude de] Forbin, Mbnoires [t686; 74, 38-38z; 829 edn]. 
Foi is a form of Chinese Buddhism. 
IUsung Pandang. 
Continuation of the same subjea 
The sacred books of the ancient Persians said: "If you want to be a 
saint, instruct your children, because all the good acts they do will be 
attributed to you. "29 They counseled early marriage because the 
children would be like a bridge on Judgment Day and because those 
who had no children could not cross. These dogmas were false, but 
they were very useful. 
z9 [Thomas] Hyde [Historia religionis veterum Persarum, Sad-der, Porta 55, P. 465; 17oo edn]. 
On metempsychosis 
The dogma of the immortality of the soul is divided into three 
branches: that of pure immortality, that of simple change. of abode, and 
that of metempsychosis; that is, the system of the Christians, the system 
of the Scythians, and the system of the Indians. I have just spoken of the 
first two, and I shall say of the third that, as it has been well and badly 
directed, it has both good and bad effects in the Indies; as it gives men a 
certain horror of spilling blood, there are very few murders in the 
Indies, and though one almost never punishes with death, everyone 
there is tranquil. 
On the other hand, wives bum themselves when their husbands die; 
only innocent people suffer violent death there. 
I I 
How dangerous it is religion to inspire horrorjr 
indiarent things 
A certain honor established by religious prejudices in the Indies makes 
the various castes hold one another in horror. This honor is founded 
solely on religion; these distinctions by family do not form civil 
473 474 
The religion established in each country 
distinctions: there are Indians who would believe themselves dis- 
honored if they ate with their king. 
These sorts of distinctions are bound to a certain aversion for other 
men, an aversion quite different from the feelings that should arise 
from differences in rank and which among ourselves include love for 
one's inferiors. 
The laws of religion will avoid inspiring any scorn other than scorn 
for vice and especially will avoid moving men away from love and pity 
for men. 
The Mohammedan religion and the Indian religion comprise an 
infinite number of peoples: the Indians hate the Mohammedans 
because they eat cows; the Mohammedans detest the Indians because 
they eat pigs. 
When a religion orders that work come to an end, it Should have more 
regard for the needs of men than for the greatness of the being that it 
In Athens 3° the excessive number of festivals was a great problem. 
Frequently, business could not be conducted among this dominating 
people to Whom all the Greek towns brought their differences. 
When Constantine established that one would rest on Sunday, he 
made this ordinance for the towns 3 and not for the peoples of 'the 
countryside; he felt that useful work was in the towns and necessary 
work in the country. 
For the same reason, in the countries that maintain themselves by 
commerce, the number of festivals should be relative to that same 
commerce. ProteStant countries and Catholic countries are situated in 
such a way that one needs to work more in the former than in the 
latter; 3z therefore, the suppression of festivals suited Protestant 
countries better than Catholic countries. 
3°Xenophon, "The Old Oligarch," The Constitution of Athens [3. x-2]. 
3  Law 3, Code [CorpusJuris Civilis, Code 3.  2.3]; deferiis. This law was doubtless made only 
for the pagans. 
3ZThere are more Catholics in the South and Protestants in the North. 
Dampier observes 33 that the people's diversions vary greatly accord- 
ing to the climate. As hot climates produce a quantity of delicate fruits, 
the barbarians, who find what is necessary instantly, spend more time 
amusing themselves; the Indians of the cold countries do not have so 
much leisure; they must continually fish and hunt; therefore, they have 
fewer dances, less music, and fewer festivals, and a religion that would 
become established among these peoples should show regard for this 
when instituting festivals. 
33[William Dampier] Voyages, vol. 2 [bk. , chap. i9; 1, 52x-522; 9o6 edn]. 
On local religious laws 
There are many local laws in the various religions. And when Mon- 
tezuma persisted in saying that the religion of the Spaniards was good 
for their country and that of Mexico for his own, he was not saying an 
absurd thing, because, indeed, legislators could not have kept from 
having regard for what nature had established before them. 
The opinion of metempsychosis is made for the climate of the 
Indies. Excessive heat scorches 34 the whole countryside; one can feed 
only very litfie livestock; one is always in danger of having little stock for 
plowing; the livestock reproduce poorly; 3s they are subject to many 
diseases; therefore, a law of religion that preserves them is very suitable 
to the police of this country. 
While the meadows are scorched, rice and vegetables are grown 
successfully because water can be diverted to them; therefore, a law of 
rdigion that permits only this food is very useful to the men of these 
The flesh of cattle 36 there is tasteless, and the milk and butter they 
get from them is part of their sustenance; therefore, the law that forbids 
eating and killing cows is not unreasonable in the Indies. 
34[Franqois] Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire, vol. 2, p. 37 ["The Gentiles of 
Hindoustan"; p. 326; x9x6 edn]. 
35Lettres idifiantes et curieuses, vol. x 2, p. 95 [LetIres du P. du Bourzes, Madure, September 
2I, 1713; 12, 93-94; I741 edn]. 
36[Franqois] Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire, vol. 2, p. 37 ["The Gentiles of 
Hindoustan"; pp. 326-327; I9X6 edn]. 
475 476 
The religion established in each country 
There was an innumerable multitude of people in Athens; the 
territory was barren; it was a religious maxim that those who offered 
certain little presents to the god honored them more than those who 
sacrificed oxen. 37 
Continuation of the same subject 
37Euripides, in Athenaeus Naucratia [Deipnosophistae], bk. 2, p. 40 [4od]. 
The drawback in transfirring a religion fiom 
one country to another 
It follows that there are often many drawbacks in transferring a religion 
from one country to another. 38 
M. de Boulainvilliers says, 39 "Pigs must be very scarce in Arabia, 
where there are almost no woods and almost no appropriate feed for 
these animals; besides, the saltiness of their food and water makes the 
people very susceptible to skin diseases." The local law that forbids 
eating pork could not be good for other countries, 4° where pigs are an' 
almost universal food and, in a way, necessary. 
I shall make a reflection here. Santorio has observed that when one 
eats pork it transpires little and that this food even greatly prevents the 
transpiration of other foods; he has found that the decrease was as 
much as a third; 41 one knows, besides, that the lack of transpiration 
forms or sharpens diseases of the skin: therefore, eating pork should b e 
forbidden in climates where one is subject to these diseases, as in 
Palestine, Arabia, Egypt, and Libya. 
38The Christian religion is not spoken of here because, as was said in bk. 24, chap. x at the 
end, the Christian religion is the first good. 
39[Comte de Boulainvilliers] La Vie de Mahamed [bk. x; pp. x6x-x62; x73 edn]. 
40 As in China. 
4 [Santorio Santorio] D e medicine statica aphoristni, sect. 3, aphorism 23 [3..23; P. 22o;  784 
M. Chardin says 42 that there is no navigable fiver in Persia except th e 
fiver Kura, which is at the border of the empire. Therefore, the old law 
of the Ghebers, which prohibited navigation on rivers, was no draw' 
back in their country, but it would have wrecked commerce in some 
other country. 
The continual application of lotions is a common usage in hot 
climates. This makes the Mohammedan law and the Indian religion 
order that application. To pray to god in running water 43 is a very 
meritorious act in the Indies, but how are these things to be executed in 
other climates? 
When a religion founded on a climate runs counter to the climate of 
another country, it has not been able to establish itself there, and when 
it has been introduced there, it has been driven out. In human terms, it 
seems that climate has prescribed limits to the Christia n religion and to 
the Mohammedan religion. 
It follows 'that it is almost always suitable for a religion to have 
particular dogmas and a general worship. In the laws that concern the 
practices of worship, there must be few details, for example mortifi- 
cation but not some certain mortification. Christianity is full of 
common sense; abstinence comes from divine fight, but a particular 
abstinence comes from the fight of the police and can be changed. 
4Z[John Chardin], Voyages en Perse et autres lieux de l'Orient, vol. 2 ["Voyage de Paris 
Ispahan"; 2, 30; x8x x edn}. 
43 [Franqois] Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire, vol. 2, ["The Gentiles ofHindoustan"; pp. 
327-328; I96 edn]. 
On the laws in their relation with the 
felt. Thus, Catholics, who have more of this sort of worship than 
Protestants, are more invincibly attached to their religion than Protes- 
tants are to theirs and more zealous of its propagation. 
When the people of Ephesus learned that the Fathers at the Council 
establishment of the religion of e. ach had decided that one could call the Virgin the Mother of God, they wer. e 
overjoyed; they kissed the hands of the bishops; they embraced their 
country, and of its external pohce knees; acclamations rang out everywhere.  
the jelingjbr religion 
The pious man and the atheist always speak of religion; the one speaks 
of what he loves and the other of what he fears. 
various religions 
On the rnotivejr attachment to the 
The various religions of the world do not give to those who profess 
them equal motives for attachment to them; this depends largely on 
how they fit into men's way of thinking and feeling. 
We are exceedingly drawn to idolatory, and nevertheless we are not 
strongly attached to idolatrous religions; we are scarcely inclined to 
spiritual ideas, and nevertheless we are very attached to religions that 
have us worship a spiritual being. It is a happy feeling that comes, in 
part, from the satisfaction we find in ourselves for having been 
intelligent enough to have chosen a religion that withdraws divinity 
from the humiliation in which others had placed it. We regard idolatory 
as the religion of coarse peoples, and a religion whose object is a 
spiritual being, as that of enlightened peoples. 
When we can join to the idea of a supreme spiritual being, which 
forms the dogma, the sensible ideas that enter into the worship, this 
gives us great attachment to the religion because the motives we have 
just mentioned are joined to our natural penchant for things that can be 
When an intellectual religion also gives us the idea of a choice made 
by the divinity, and of a distinction between those who profess it and 
those who do not profess it, this attaches us greatly to the religion. The 
Mohammedans would not be such good Muslims if there were not, on 
the one hand, idolatrous peoples who make them think they are 
avengers of the unity of god and, on the other, Christians, to make them 
believe that they are the object of his preferences. 
A religion burdened with many practices z attaches people to it more 
strongly than another one that has fewer; one is attached to the things 
that continually occupy one: witness the tenacious obstinacy of the 
Mohammedans and the Jews, and the ease of changing religions for 
barbarian and savage peoples, who, wholly occupied with hunting or 
warring, scarcely burden themselves with religious practices. 3 
Men are exceedingly drawn to hope a and to fear, and a religion that 
had neither hell nor paradise would scarcely please them. This is 
proved by the ease with which foreign religions have been established 
in Japan and the zeal and love with which they have been received. 4 
In order for a religion to attach men to it, it must have pure morality. 
 St. Cyril [Bishop of Alexandria], Epistolae. [The relevant letter, perhaps, is "Epistola 24. 
Cyrilli ad Clerum Populumque Alexandrinum"; Migne PG 77, x 37-i 38.] 
ZThis is not contradictory to what I have said in the next to last chapter of the preceding 
book [24.25]; here I speak of the motives of attachment to a religion and there of the means 
of making it more widespread. 
3This can be seen everywhere around the earth. For the Turks, see Nouveau mimoire des 
Missions de la compagnie de Jesus dans le Levant [e.g., "La Conversation et le martyre d'une 
jeune infid/fie"; 4, I95-2o4; 1724 edn, and 8, i37-213; x745 edn]; fo? the Moors of 
Batavia, Recueil des voyages qui ont semi d l'itablissement de la Compagnie des lndes, vol. 3, pt. x, 
p. 2oi [2. "Voyage de P. van Caerden"; 3, 66o-66; i7o 5 edn; 3, 6,-6; 725 edn]; and for 
the black Mohammedans, Father [Jean Baptiste] Labat [Nouvelle Relation de 154frique, vol. 
I, chap. 2o; p. 25i; xTz8 edn]. 
'The Christian religion and the religions of the Indies; these have a hell and a paradise, 
whereas the religion of the Shintos has none. 
allere the translation of espdrer as "hope" rather than "expectation" seems to be 
required by the context. (See note a, Preface.) 
The religion of each country and its external police 
Men, rascals when taken one by one, are very honest as a whole; they 
love morality; and if I were not considering such a serious subject, I 
would say that this is remarkably clear in the theaters: one is sure to 
please people by the feelings that morality professes, and one is sure to 
offend them by those that it disapproves. 
When the externals ofveorship are very magnificent, we are flattered 
and we become very attached to the religion. Wealth in the temples and 
the clergy affects us greatly. Thus, the very poverty of peoples is a 
motive attaching them to that religion, which has served as a pretext for 
those who have caused their poverty. 
I I I 
On temples 
Almost all the peoples vdth a police live in houses. From this has 
naturally come the idea of building a house for god where they can 
worship him and go to seek him in their fears or their hopes. 
Indeed, nothing con, soles men more than a place where they find the 
divinity more present and where all together they give voice to their 
weakness and their misery. 
But this very natural idea comes only to peoples who cultivate land, 
and one will not see temples built by those who have no houses 
This is why Genghis Khan showed such great scorn for mosques. 5 
This prince 6 interrogated the Mohammedans; he approved all their 
dogmas, except the one on the necessity of going to Mecca; he could 
not understand that one could not worship god everywhere. As the 
Tartars did not live in houses, they did not know of temples. 
Peoples who have no temples have little attachment to their religion: 
this is why the Tartars have always been so tolerant, 7 why the barbarian 
5 Entering the mosque of Buchara, he picked up the Koran and threw it under his horses' 
hooves. [Ebulgazi Bahadir Han, Khan of Khorezm] Histoire des Mongols et des Tatares, pt. 3, 
p. 273 [pt. 3, chap. 4; "De I'xpedition de Zinghis-Chan"; p: 263; 726 edn; p.  o; 
197o edn]. 
6Ibid. [Ebulgazi Bahadir Hah, Khan of Khorezm, Histoire des Mongols et des Tatares], 
p. 342 [pt. 3, chap. 9; "De retour de Zinghis-Chan"; p. 335; x726 edn; p. x39; 97o 
7This turn of mind has been transmitted as far as the Japanese, who were originally the 
Tartars, as is easily proved. 
peoples who conquered the Roman empire did not hesitate for a 
moment to embrace Christianity, why the savages of America are so 
little attached to their own religion, and why, since our missionaries 
have had them build churches, they have so much zeal for ours. 
As the divinity is the refuge of the unfortunate and'as no people are 
more fortunate than criminals, one has been led naturally to think of 
temples as an asylum for criminals, and this idea seemed even more. 
natural among the Greeks, where murderers, driven from their town 
and the presence of men, seemed to have no houses other than the 
temples and no protectors other than the gods. 
At first, this concerned only those who unintentionally committed 
murder, but when great criminals were included in the refuge, one fell 
into a glaring contradiction; if the criminals had offended men, there is 
even greater reason for them to have offended the gods. 
These asylums multiplied in Greece: the temples, Tacitus says, 8 
were filled with insolvent debtors and wicked slaves; it .was difficult for 
the magistrates to carry out the police; the people protected men's 
crimes just as they did the god's ceremonies; the Senate was obliged to 
close a great number of temples. 
The laws of Moses were very wise. Those who murdered involun- 
tarily were innocent, but they had to be removed from the sight of the 
relatives of the deceased; therefore, Moses established an asylum for 
them. 9 The greatest criminals did not merit any asylum; they had 
none. ° The Jews had only a portable tabernacle, which changed its 
place continually; this excluded the idea of asylum. It is true that they 
were to have a temple, but the criminals, who would have come there 
from everywhere, could have disturbed the divine service. If-the 
murderers had been driven out of the country, as they were bY the 
Greeks, it would have been feared that they would worship-foreign 
gods. All these considerations led to the establishment of towns of 
asylum where one had to remain until the death of the high priest? 
S[Tacitus] Annales, bk. 2 [3.60]. 
9Numbers, chap. 35 [35-x4] ▀ 
l°Ibid. [Numbers 35.6-2x]. 
* souverain pontiff. 
The religion of each country and its external police 
On the ministers of religion 
The first men, says Porphyry, sacrificed only plants. For such a simple 
worship, each man could be a pontiff within his family.  
The natural desire to please the divinity multiplied ceremonies; this 
caused men, who were engaged in agriculture, to be unable to execute 
them all and to observe all the details. 
Particular places were dedicated to the gods; there had to be 
ministers to take care of them, just as each citizen takes care of his 
house and his domestic business. Thus, peoples without priests are 
usually barbarians. Such were the Pedalians in other times;  such are 
still the Wolgusky. 2 
Those who were dedicated to the divinity had to be honored, above 
all among peoples who had formed for themselves a certain idea of the 
bodily purity necessary for approaching the places that were the most 
pleasingto the gods and dependent on certain practices. 
As worship of the gods required continual attention, most peoples 
were inclined to make the clergy a separate b'Ody. Thus, among the 
Egyptians, the Jews, and the Persians, 3 certain families, who were 
perpetuated and who performed the services, were dedicated to the 
divinity. There were even religions in which one thought not merely of 
withdrawing ecclesiastics from business, but even of relieving them of 
the encumbrance of a family, and this is the practice of the principal 
branch of Christian law. 
I shall not speak here of the consequences of the law of celibacy; one 
senses that it could become harmful in proportion as the body of the 
clergy became too large and, consequently, that of the laity not large 
By the nature of human understanding, we love in religion every- 
thing that presumes an effort, just as on the subject of morality, we love 
in theory all that has the character of severity. Celibacy has been more 
Lilio Giraldi [De da gentium], p. 726 [p. 726, Basel, i548 edn, reprinted i976; p. 527; 
x696 edn]. [Giraldi is quoting Stobaeus.] 
lZPeoples of Siberia. See the account of Everard Isbrands-Ides, in the Recueil de voyages au 
Nord, vol. 8 ["Voyage de Moscou & Chine"; chap. 2; pp. 8, I3; I727 edn]. 
3See [Thomas] Hyde [De religioneveterurn Persarurn, chap. 28, p. 349; x7oo edn]. 
'Porphyry, De abstinentia 2.5.2. 
pleasing to the peoples whom it seemed to suit the least and for whom it 
could have the most grievous results. In the countries of southern 
Europe, where by the nature of the climate the law of celibacy is the 
most difficult to observe, it has been retained; in those of the north, 
where the passions are less lively, it has been proscribed. Furthermore, 
in countries that have few inhabitants, it has been admitted; in those 
that have many, one has rejected it. One senses that all these reflections 
are only about the too great extension of celibacy and not about celibacy 
On the limits that the laws should set 
on the wealth of the clerg 
Particular families can perish; thus, theirgoods do not. have a perpetual 
destination. The clergy is a family which cannot perish; therefore, 
goods are attached to it forever and cannot pass out of it. 
'Particular families can increase; therefore, their goods must also be 
able to grow. The clergy is a family which should not increase; 
therefore, its goods should be limited. 
We have retained the provisions in Leviticus for the goods of the 
clergy, except those regarding the limits on those goods; indeed, among 
ourselves, the boundaby beyond which a religious community is no 
longer to acquire will always be unknown. 
These endless acquisitions seem so unreasonable to the peoples th at 
anyone who would want to speak in their favor would be regarded as 
Civil laws sometimes find obstacles to changing established abuses 
because these abuses are linked to things the laws should respect; in 
this case, an indirect provision is more indicative of a good spirit in the 
legislator than another that would strike against the thing itself. Instead 
of prohibiting acquisitions to the clergy, one must seek to make them 
distasteful, to leave the fight and remove the fact. 
In some countries of Europe, attention to the rights of the lords has 
caused the establishment in their favor of a right of indemnity over th'e 
landed property that people have acquired by mortmain. The interest 
of the prince has made him require a fight of amortization in this same 
483 484 
The religion of each country and its external police 
case. In Castile, where there is no similar right, the clergy has invaded 
everything; in Aragon, where there is some right of amortization, it has 
acquired less; in France, where this right and that of indemnity are 
established, it has acquired still less, and one can say that the prosperity 
of this state is due in part to the exercise of these two fights. Increase 
these rights and check mortmain, if possible. 
Render sacred and inviolable the ancient and necessary domain of 
the clergy; let the domain be fixed and eternal like the clergy, but take 
new domains from their hands. 
Permit the rule to be violated when the rule has become an abuse; 
suffer the abuse when it reverts to the rule. 
In Rome one still remembers a report sent there at the time of several 
contentions with the clergy. This maxim was put in it: "The clergy 
should help pay for the burdens of the state, whatever the Old 
Testament may say about it." One concludes from this that the author 
of the report understood the language of the maletold better than that 
of religion. 
dThe maltdte was a tax levied by Philip the Fair; the term came to mean abusive 
On monasteries 
The least bit of common sense shows that those bodies that are to be 
perpetual should not sell their lands for life, or borrow for life, unless 
one wants them to become the heirs of all those who have no relatives 
and of all those who do not want to have any; the monastics gamble with 
the people, but they hold the bank themselves. 
On the luxury of superstition 
"It is impious toward the gods," Plato says, TM "to deny their existence, 
or to grant it but to hold that they do not take a hand in the things here 
below, or finally to think that they are easily appeased by sacrifices: 
three equally pernicious opinions." Plato says there all of the most 
sensible things that natural enlightenment has ever said on the subject 
of religion. 
Magnificence in the externals of worship is closely related to the 
constitution of the state. In good republics not only has the luxury of 
vanity been repressed, but also that of superstition; religion has made 
laws limiting expenditures. Among them number some laws of Solon, 
some laws of Plato on funerals that Cicero has adopted, and, finally, 
some laws of Numa about sacrifices. 5 - 
"Birds," says Cicero, "and paintings made in a single day are very 
divine gifts. TM "We offer common things," said a Spartan, "so that we 
have the means for honoring the gods every day. "f 
The care men should take in worshiping the divinity is very different 
from the magnificence of that worship. Let us not offer him our 
treasures if we do not want to display to him our esteem for the things 
that he wants us to distrust. 
"What are the gods to think of the gifts of the impious," Plato says 
admirably, "for a good man would blush to receive presents from a 
dishonest man?" 
Religion must not, with gifts as the pretext, exact from the peoples 
what the necessities of the state have left over for them, and, as Plato 
says, 6 chaste and pious men should offer gifts that resemble 
Nor should religion encourage expenditures for funerals. What is 
4[Plato[ Laws, bk. IO [885b]. 
5"Let no one sprinkle wine upon the funeral pyre" [L.]. Law of the Twelve Tables. 
[Actually Leges regiae, Numa 7; its source is Pliny, Historia Naturalis I4. I4.88. A very 
similar law to this one appears in Table x of the Twelve Tables (x.6b), but M.'s quotation 
is from Numa.] 
16[Plato] Laws, bk. 3 [76e-717a]. 
Cicero, De legibus 2. x 8.45. 
fPlato, Laws 956b, 959. 
The religion of each country and its external police 
more natural than to remove the difference of fortunes for a thing and 
at a time that equalizes all fortunes? 
On the pontificate 
When a religion has many ministers, it is natural for them to have a 
leader and for the pontificate to be established in it. In monarchy, 
where one cannot too much separate the orders of the state and where 
one should not bring together all the powers in the same head, it is good 
for the pontificate to be separated from the empire. The same necessity 
is not encountered in despotic government, whose nature is to unite all 
powers in the same person. But, in this case, it could happen that the 
prince would regard the religion as he does his laws themselves and as 
effects of his will. In order to prevent this, there must be records of the 
religion, for example, sacred books that fix and establish it. The king of 
Persia is the leader of the religion, but the Koran regulates the religion; 
the emperor of China is the sovereign pontiff, but there are books, 
which are in everyone's hands and to which he should himself conform. 
In vain did an emperor want to abolish them; they triumphed over 
On toleration in religious matters 
Here we are political men andSnot theologians, and even for theolo- 
gians there is much difference between tolerating and approving a 
When the laws of a state have believed they should allow many 
religions, they must also oblige them to tolerate each other. The 
principle is that every religion which is repressed becomes repressive 
itself; for as soon as, by some chanc e , it can shake off oppression, it 
attacks the religion which repressed it, not as a religion, but as a 
.T.herefore, it is useful for tl?.e laws to require of these various 
rehgons not only that they not disturb the state, but also that they not 
disturb each other. A citizen does not satisfy the laws by contenting 
himself with not agitating the body of the state; he must also not disturb 
any citizen whatsoever. 
Continuation of the same subject 
As there are scarcely any but intolerant religions that are greatly zealous 
to establish themselves elsewhere, for a religion that can tolerate others 
scarcely thinks of its propagation, it will be a very good civil law, when 
the state is satisfied with the established religion, not to allow the 
establishment of another. 7 
Here, therefore, is the fundamental principle for political laws in 
religious matters. When One is the master of the state's accepting a new 
religion, or not accepting it, it must not "be established; when it is 
established, it must be tolerated. 
17I do not speak of the Christian religion in this chapter because, as I have said elsewhere, 
the Christian religion is the first good. See the end of chap. x of the preceding book and the 
Defense of the Spirit of the Laws, pt. 2. 
On changing religion 
A prince who undertakes to destroy or to change the dominant religion 
in his state is greatly exposed. If his governmentis despotic, he runs a 
greater risk of seeing a revolution than he would by any tyranny 
whatever, which is never a new thing in these sorts of states. The 
revolution results from the fact that a state does not change religion, 
mores, and manners in an instant, or as soon as the prince publishes the 
ordinance establishing a new religion. . 
In addition, the former religion is linked with the constitution of the 
state, and the new one is not attached to it; the first is in accord with the 
487 488 
The religion of each country and its external police 
climate and the new one often resists it. Furthermore, the citizens find 
their laws distasteful; they scorn the government already established; 
suspicions of both religions are substituted for a firm belief in one; in a 
word, one gives the state, at least for some time, bad citizens and bad 
On penal laws 
Penal laws must be avoided in the matter of religion. They impress fear, 
it is true, but as religion also has its penal laws which inspire fear, the 
one is canceled out by the other. Between these two different fears, 
souls become atrocious. 
Religion has such great threats, it has such great promises, that when 
they are present to our spirits, no matter What the magistrate does to 
constrain us to abandon it, it seems that we are left with nothing when 
religion istaken away, and that nothing is taken from us when religion is 
left to us.  
Therefore, one does not succeed in detaching the soul from religion 
by filling it with this great object, by bringing it closer to the moment 
when it should find religion of greater importance; a more certain way 
to attack religion is by favor, by the comforts of life, by the hope of 
fortune, not by what reminds one of it, but by what makes one forget it; 
not by what makes one indignant, but by what leads one to indifference 
When other passions act on our souls and when those that religion 
inspires are silent. General rule: in the matter of changing religion, 
invitations are stronger than penalties. 
The character of the human spirit has appeared in even the order of 
the penalties that one has used. Remember the persecutions in Japan; 8 
one is more revolted by cruel punishments than by the long penalties 
that weary more than they frighten, that are more difficult to overcome 
because they seem less difficult. 
In a word, history teaches Us well enough that the penal laws have 
never had any effect other than destruction, 
8See the Recueil des voyages qui ont servi  l'e'tablissement de la Compagnie des Indes, vol. 5, pt. , 
p. x92 ["Histoire d'une perstcution qui a 6t6 faite aux Chrttiens Romains auJapon"; 5, 
395-428; 7o6 edn; 5,468-499; 725 edn]. 
Very humble remonstrance to the inquisitors 
of Spain and Portugal 
An eighteen-year-old Jewess, burned in Lisbon at the last auto-da-fe, 
occasioned this small work, and I believe it is the most useless that has 
ever been written. When it is a question of proving such clear things, 
one is sure not to convince. 
The author declares that, although he is a Jew, he respects the 
Christian religion and that he loves it enough to take away from princes 
who will not be Christians a plausible pretext for persecuting it. 
"You complain," he says to the inquisitors, "that the emperor of 
Japan had all the Christians in his states burned by a slow fire, but he 
will answer: We treat you, you who do not believe as we do, as you 
yourselves treat those who do not believe as you do; you can complain 
only of your weakness, which keeps you from exterminating us and 
which makes it so that we exterminate you. 
"But it has to be admitted that you are much more cruel than this 
emperor. You kill us, we who believe no more than what you believe 
because we do not believe everything that you believe. We follow a 
religion that you yourself know to have been formerly cherished by god; 
we think that god loves it still, and you think that he does not love it any 
longer, and because you judge it thus, you have afflicted with iron and 
fire those who are in the quite pardonable error of believing that god 
still loves that which he loved. 9 
"If you are cruel in our regard, you are even more so in regard to our 
children; you have them burned because they follow the suggestions 
instilled in them by those whom the natural law and the laws of all the 
peoples teach them to respect like gods. 
"You deprive yourselves of the advantage over the Mohammedans 
given you by the manner in which their religion was established. When 
they flaunt the number of their faithful, you say to them that only force 
has acquired that number for them and that they have extended their 
religion by iron; therefore, why establish yours by fire? 
"When you want to make us come to you, we use as our objection 
9Tle source for the Jews' blindness is in their failure to sense that the economy of the 
Gospel is within the order of God's designs, and that thus it follows from his immutability 
48,9 490 
The religion of each country and its external police 
that source in whose descent you take pride. You reply that though your 
religion is new, it is divine, and your proof is that it has grown by the 
persecution of the pagans and by the blood of your martyrs; but today 
you take the role of the Diocletians, and you make us take yours. 
"We, not by the powerful god we both serve, but by the 
christ that you tell us took on the human condition in order to give you 
examples you could follow; we entreat you to act with us as he himself 
would act if he were still on earth. You want us to be Christians, and you 
do not want to be Christian yourselves. 
"But if you do not want to be Christians, at least be men; treat us as 
you would if, having only the feeble lights of justice that nature gives us, 
you had no religion to guide you and no revelation to enlighten you. 
"If heaven has loved you enough to show you the truth, it has done 
you a great favor, but is it for the children who receive their father's 
inheritance to hate those who did not receive it? 
"For if you have this truth, do not hide it from us by the way in which 
you propose it. The character of truth is in its triumph over hearts and 
spirits and not in this powerlessness you avow when you want to make it 
accepted by punishments. 
"If you are reasonable, you should not have us killed because we do 
not want to deceive you. If your Christ is the son of god, we hope he will 
reward us for not having wanted to profane his mysteries, and we 
believe that the god we both serve will not punish us for having suffered 
death for a religion he formerly gave us because we believe that he still 
gives it to us. , 
"You live in a century when natural enlightenment is more alive than 
it has ever been, when philosophy has enlightened spirits, when the 
morality of your gospel has been better known, when the respective 
fights of men over each other, the empire that one conscience has over 
another conscience, are better established. Therefore, if you do not 
give up your old prejudices, which, if you do not take care, are your 
passions, it must be admitted that you are incorrigible, incapable of all 
enlightenment and of all instruction; and a nation is very unhappy that 
gives authority to men like you. 
"Do you want us to tell you our thought naively? You regard us as 
your enemies rather than as enemies of your religion for, if you loved 
your religion, you would not let it be corrupted by gross ignorance. 
"We must warn you of one thing; it is that, if someone in the future 
ever dares to say that the peoples of Europe had a police in the century 
in which we live, you will be cited to prove that they were barbarians, 
and the idea one will have about you will be such that it will stigmatize 
your century and bring hatred on all your contemporaries." 
Why the Christian religion is so odious in Japan 
I have spoken of the atrocious character of the souls of the Japanese. TM 
The magistrates regarded the firmness inspired by Christianity as very 
dangerous when it was a question of renouncing the faith; one thought 
one saw audacity increase. The I aw of Japan severely punished the 
slightest disobedience: one was ordered to renounce the Christian 
religion; not to renounce it was to disobey; one was chastised for this 
crime, and the continuation of disobedience seemed to merit another 
Among the Japanese, punishing is regarded as vengeance for an 
insult done the prince. Our martyrs' songs of gladness seemed to be an 
attack on him: martyrdom intimidated the magistrates; to their spirit it 
denoted rebellion; they did everything to keep one from it. It was then 
that souls grew fierce and one saw a horrible combat between the 
tribunals that condemned and the accused who suffered, between the 
civil laws and those of religion. 
Z°Bk. 6, chap. 24 [above]. 
I I I I 
On the propagation of religion 
All the eastern peoples, except the Mohammedans, believe all religions 
are indistinguishable in themselves. It is only as a change in govern- 
ment that they fear the establishment of another religion. Among the 
Japanese, where there are several sects and where the state has for a 
long time had an ecclesiastical leader, one never debates about 
The religion of each country and its external police 
religion. 2 It is the same among the Siamese? The Kalmucks do more; 
they make it a matter of conscience to allow all sons of religions? In 
Calicut, it is a maxim of state that every religion is good. z4 
But it does not result from this that a religion brought from a distant 
country, totally different in climate, laws, mores, and manners, has all 
the success that its holiness ought to promise it. This is chiefly true in 
the great despotic empires: at first foreigners are tolerated because no 
attention is paid to what does not appear to harm the power of the 
prince; there one is extremely ignorant of everything. A European can 
make himself agreeable by having certain bits of knowledge; this is 
good at the beginning. But, as soon as one has some success, or some 
debate occurs, or people who can have some interest are alerted, 
because this state by its nature requires tranquility above all and 
because the slightest disturbance can overturn it, the new religion and 
those who announce it are instantly proscribed; when debates break out 
among those who preach, one begins to find distasteful a religion in 
which those who propose it are not in agreement. 
see [Engelbert] Kaempfer [The History of Japan Together with a Description of the Kingdom of 
n, 69o-x692, bk. 3, chap. x; 2, ; i9o6 edn]. 
z2te [Claude de] Forbin, Mirnoires [x688; 74, 43-43a; 8z9 edn]. 
Za[Ebulgazi Bahadir Han, Khan of Khorezm] Histoire ginialogique des Tatars, pt. 5 [pt. 5, 
claP. 5, "Des princes de la posterit6 de Zagatai Chan"; Bentinck's note, 2, 4o9; x726 
'ZnFranqois Pyrard, Voyages, chap. 27 [vol. , chap. 27; x, 4o4-4o5; I887-89o edn]. 
Things upon which the laws are to enact 
On the laws in the relation they should 
have wth the order of things upon which 
they are to enact 
The idea of this book 
Men are governed by various sorts of laws: by natural right; by divine 
right, which is that of religion; by ecclesiastical right, otherwise called 
canonical, which is that of the police of religion; by the right of nations, 
which can be considered as the civil right of the universe in the sense 
that each people is a citizen of it; by the general political right, whose 
object is the human wisdom that has founded all societies; by the 
particular political right, which concerns each society; by the right of 
conquest founded on the fact that one people wanted, was able, or had 
to do violence to another people; bythe civil right of each society, which 
allows a citizen to defend his goods and his life against every other 
citizen; finally, by domestic right, which comes from the fact that a 
society is divided into various families needing a particular 
Therefore, there are different orders of laws, and the sublimity of 
human reason consists in knowing well to which of these orders 
principally relate the things on which one should enact and in not 
putting confusion into the principles that should govern men. 
divine laws and human laws 
One should not enact by divine laws that which should be enacted by 
human laws, or regulate by human laws that which should be regulated 
by divine laws. 
These two sorts of laws differ as to their origin, as to their object, and 
as to their nature. 
Everyone readily agrees that human laws are of a different nature 
from that of the laws of religion, and this is a great principle, but this 
principle itelf is subject to others which must be sought. 
i. The nature of human laws is to be subject to all the accidents that 
occur and to vary as men's wills change, whereas the nature of the laws 
of religion is never to vary. Human laws enact about the good; religion, 
about the best. The good can have another object because there are 
several goods, but the best is one alone and can, therefore, never 
change. One can certainly change laws because they are thought to be 
good only, but the institutions of religion are always presumed to be the 
2. There are states in which the laws are nothing, or nothing but a 
capricious and transitory will of the sovereign. If, in these states, the 
laws of religion were of the same nature as human laws, the laws of 
religion would also be nothing; however, it is necessary in society for 
something to be fixed, and religion is that fixed thing. 
3. The principal force of religion comes from its being believed; the 
force of human laws come from their being feared. Antiquity is suitable 
to religion because often the more distant things are from us the more 
we believe them, for we have in our heads no secondary ideas drawn 
from those times that can contradict them. Human laws, on the other 
hand, gain advantage from their novelty, which shows the legislator's 
particular and present attenfiveness to their observation. 
494 495 
On civil laws 
cIa?zv. 3 
that are contrary to natural law 
"Ifa slave," says Plato, "defends himself and kills a free man, he should 
be treated as a parricide. " This is a civil law that punishes natural 
Under Henry VIII, the law that condemned a man who had not been 
confronted by witnesses was contrary to natural defense; indeed, in 
order to condemn, the witnesses must know that the man against whom 
they make a deposition is the one whom they accuse, and the accused 
man must be able to say, "I am not the man of whom you speak." 
A law passed during the same reign condemned every girl who, 
having had illicit commerce with someone, did not declare this to the 
king before marrying the man; this violated the natural defense of 
modesty; it is as unreasonable to require a girl to make this declaration 
as to ask a man not to seek to defend his life. 
A law of Henry II, which condemns a girl whose child had died to 
death unless she had declared her pregnancy before a magistrate, is no 
less contrary to natural defense. It would have been enough to oblige 
her to inform one of her closest relatives, who would see to the 
preservation of the child. 
In this punishment of her natural modesty, could she make any other 
confession? Education has strengthened in her the idea of preserving 
that modesty, and at such times she can scarcely retain an idea 
concerning the loss of life. 
Much has been said of a law in England that let a seven-year-old girl 
choose her husband. z This law was outrageous in two ways; it had 
regard neither for the time set by nature for the maturation of the spirit 
nor for the time it sets for the maturation of the body. 
Among the Romans, a father could oblige his daughter to repudiate 
her husband, although he himself had consented to the marriage. 3 But 
it is against nature for divorce to be put into the hands of a third party. 
If divorce is in conformity with nature, it is so only when consent is 
 [Plato] Laws, bk. 9 [869d]. 
2[Pierre] Bayle, in his Critique de l'histoire du cah, inisme, speaks of this law, p. 293. [It is 
actually in Nouvelles lettres de l'auteur de la Critique, Lettre 8; 2.214-215; 1964 edn]. 
3See law 5 of the Code [Corpus Juris Civilis, Code 5.I7.5]; de repudiis et judicio de moribus 
Things upon which the laws are to enact 
given by the two parties, or at least one of them; and when neither the 
one nor the other consents to it, divorce is a monster. Finally, the 
faculty of divorce can be given only to those who bear the discomforts of 
the marriage and who sense the moment when it is in their interest to 
make them cease. 
Continuation of the same subject 
Gundobad, king of Burgundy, wanted the wife or the son of one who 
had stolen to be reduced to slavery if they did not reveal the crime. 4 
This law was against nature. How could a wife be her husband's 
accuser? How could a son be his father's? In order to avenge a criminal 
action, he ordered one that was yet more criminal. 
The law of Reccesuinth permitted the children of the adulterous 
wife, or those of her husband, to accuse her and to torture the house 
slaves? This was an iniquitous law that, in order to preserve the mores, 
overturned nature, in Which the mores have their origin. 
In our theaters we watch with pleasure when a young hero shows as 
much horror on discovering his step-mother's crime as he had for the 
Crime itself; in his surprise, accused, judged, condemned, banished, 
and covered with infamy, he scarcely dares do more than make a few 
reflections on the abominable blood from which Phaedra is descended; 
he abandons what he holds most dear, his most tender object, all that 
speaks to his heart, all that can arouse his indignation, to give himself 
up to the vengeance of the gods, a vengeance he has not deserved. The 
accents of nature cause this pleasure; it is the sweetest of all voices. 
4Leges Burgundionum, tit. 41 [47.I-2]. 
Sin the Lex Wisigothorum, bk. 3, tit. 4, para. 13 [3.4. I3]. 
496 497 
A case in which one can judge by theprinciples of civil right 
by rnodiing the principles of natural law 
An Athenian law obliged children to feed their fathers if they had fallen 
into indigence; 6 it excepted those who were born of a courtesan, those 
whose father had exposed their modesty to infamous dealings, 7 and 
those to whom he had not given a trade to earn their living. 8 
The law considered that, in the first case, as it was uncertain who the 
father was, he had rendered his natural obligation precarious; that, in 
the second, he had stigmatized the life which he had given and that he 
had done the greatest evil he could do to his children by taking away 
their character; that, in the third case, he had made their life, which 
they found difficult to sustain, unbearable. The law envisaged the 
father and son simply as two citizens; it enacted only from political and 
civil points of view; it considered that, in a good republic, mores were 
necessary above all else. I believe that Solon's law was good in the first 
two cases, the one in which nature leaves the son in ignorance of his 
father, and the one in which nature seems even to order the son to 
disown him, but one cannot approve of it in the third case, where the 
father had violated only a civil regulation. 
6On pain of infamy; another, on pain of prison. 
7plutarch [Vit.], Solon [22.4]. 
8plutarch [Vit.], Solon [22.4]; and Galen, Protreptikos logos, 
Adhortatio ad artes addiscendas, chap. 8 [, x 5; 82x Kuehn edn]. 
Paraphrastae Menodoti, 
That the order of inheritance depends on principles of 
political or civil right, and not on principles of natural right 
The Voconian law did not permit one to appoint a woman heir, not even 
one's only daughter. "There never was," says Saint Augustine, 9 "a 
more unjust law." A formula of Marcult TM terms impious that custom 
9[St. Augustine] The City of God, bk. 3 [3'2I] ▀ 
l°[MarculfiJbrmulae] bk. 2, chap. 2 [2.x2]. 
Things upon which the laws are to enact 
which deprives daughters of their father's inheritance. Justinian calls l 
the fight of inheritance for males to the detriment of daughters 
barbarous. These ideas come from regarding the fight of children to 
inherit from their fathers to be a consequence of natural law, which it is 
Natural law orders fathers to feed their children, but it does not 
oblige them to make them their heirs. The division of goods, laws 
concerning this division, inheritances after the death of the one who 
made this division, all this can only be regulated by the society and, 
consequently, by political and civil laws. 
It is true that the political or civil order often asks that the children 
inherit from their fathers, but it does not always require it. 
The laws about our fiefs might have had reasons for giving every- 
thing to the eldest male, or the closest relative among the males, and for 
giving nothing to the daughters; and the laws of the Lombards 12 might 
have had reasons for allowing sisters, natural children, other relatives, 
and, in their absence, the risc, to rank equally with daughters. 
The rule in some dynasties in China was that the Emperor's brothers 
would succeed to the throne and that his children would not. If one 
wanted the prince to have a certain amount of experience, if minorities 
were feared, if it were necessary to keep eunuchs from putting children 
successively on the throne, such an order of inheritance could well be 
established, and when certain writers 13 have called these brothers 
usurpers, they have judged according to ideas taken from the laws of 
their own countries. 
According to custom in Numidia, TM Oezalces the brother of Gala 
inherited the kingdom, and not Masinissa, his son. And still today, 5 
among the Arabs of Barbary, where each village has a leader, the uncle 
or some other relative is chosen to inherit according to this old custom. 
There are purely elective monarchies; and as soon as it is clear that 
the order of inheritance should derive from political or civil laws, it is 
for them to decide in which cases reason wants this inheritance to be 
11[Colpus Juris Civilis] Novellae 2x [2x, Preface]. 
12[Leges Langobardorum] bk. 2, tit. x4, paras. 6-8 [Roth.  58-x6o]. 
3Father [Jean Baptiste] du Halde [Description de lEmpire de la Chine], second dynasty 
["Tsou Sin, twelfth Emperor"; i, 299 H; x, 33-334 P; x, 3o4 L]. 
4Livy, decade 3, bk. 9 [29.29]. 
15See [Thomas] Shaw, Travels or Observations Relating to Several Parts of Barbary and the 
Levant, vol. x, p. 4o2 ["Physical and Miscellaneous Observations"; chap. 4, "Of the 
Government, Forces and Revenues of the Algerines [sic]"; p. 3o; x738 edn]. 
498 499 
passed down to the children and in which cases the inheritance must be 
given to others. 
In countries where polygamy is established, the prince has many 
children; their number is larger in some countries than in others. 
There are some states 6 in which the upkeep of the king's children by 
the people would be impossible; there, one has been able to establish 
that the king's children do not inherit, but rather his sister's children. 
A prodigious number of children would expose the state to horrible 
civil wars. The order of inheritance that gives the crown to the sister's 
children, who are no more numerous than would be the children of a 
prince having a single wife, provides against these drawbacks. 
There are nations where reasons of state or some religious maxim 
have demanded that a certain family should always reign; in the 
Indies, 17 such is the jealousy of one's caste and the fear of not 
descending from it; it has been thought that, in order always to have 
princes of royal blood, the king's oldest sister's children always had to 
be chosen. 
General maxim: feeding one's children is an obligation of natural 
fight; giving them one's inheritance is an obligation of civil or political 
fight. From this derive the different provisions concerning bastards in 
the different countries of the world; they follow the civil or political laws 
of each country. 
6See the Recueil des voyages qui ont semi  lYtablissement de la Compagnie des Indes, vol. 4, pt. I, 
p. I x4 ["Voyage de P. van den Broeck, Description du royaume de Lowango"; 4, 339- 
340; I7O5 edn; 4, 3 x9-32o; x725 edn]; and [William] Smith, A New Voyage to Guinea, pt. 
2, p. x5o [pp. 2oo-2o6; x967 edn] on the kingdom of Whyday. 
17See Lettres difiantes et curieuses, vol. I4 [Lettre du P. Bouchet, Pondichry, October 2, 
x714; x4, 382-389; x72o edn] and Recueil des voyages qui ont seroi ti IYtablissement de la 
Compagnie des Indes, vol. 3, pt. 2, p. 644 ["II. Voyage de Paul van Caerden aux Indes 
Orientales"; 3,679; 7o5 edn; 3,644; x725 edn]. 
Things upon which the laws are to enact 
one must not decide by the precepts of religion when 
those of natural law are in question 
The Abyssinians have a harsh fast of fifty days, which so weakens them 
that they cannot act for a long time; the Turks do not fail to attack them 
after this fast. 8 To favor natural defense religi'on ought to put some 
limits on these practices. 
The Jews were ordered to observe the Sabbath, but it was dull- 
witted of this nation not to defend itself 9 when its enemies chose that 
day to attack. 
Cambyses, laying siege to Pelusium, put in his front rank a large 
number of animals that the Egyptians held sacred; the soldiers of the 
garrison dared not shoot. Who can fail to see that natural defense is of a 
higher order than all precepts? 
8Recueil des voyages qui ont semi  lYtablissement de la Compagnie des Indes, vol. 4, pt. i, pp. 35 
and xo3 ["Voyage de l'amiral Pierre Willemsz Verhoeven" 06o7); 4, 36; 7o5 edn; 4, 34; 
I725 edn]. 
19As they did when Pompey besieged the temple. See Cass. Dio [Historia Romana], bk..37 
That things ruled by the principles of civil right must not be 
ruled by the principles of what is called canonical right 
According to the civil fight of the Romans, 2° he who removes a private 
thing from a sacred site is punished only for the crime of robbery; 
according to canonical right, z he is punished for the crime of sacrilege. 
Canonical fight pays attention to the place; civil fight, to the thing. But 
to pay attention to the place alone is to fail to reflect either on the nature 
and definition of robbery or on the nature and definition of sacrilege. 
Z°Law 5 [ Corpus Juris Civilis, Digest, 48. x 3.6(5)]; ad legemJuliam peculatus et de sacrilegis et de 
[ Corpus juris Canonid, Decreturn Magistri Gratiam] Quisquis inventus [chap. 2 x ], canon xvI, 
quaestione 4; [Jacques] Cujas, Obsemationum et ernendationum libri [chap. 28], bk. 13, 
chap. x 9, tit. 3 [i, 27o; 868 edn]. 
500 5ox 
As the husband can ask for separation because of the wife's 
infidelity, the wife could formerly ask for separation because of the 
infidelity of the husband? This usage, contrary to the provision of the 
Roman laws, 23 was introduced in the courts of the church, 24 where one 
only attended to the maxims of canonical right; and, indeed, consider- 
ing marriage only according to purely spiritual ideas and to its relation 
to the things of the next life, the violation is the same. But the political 
and civil laws of almost all peoples have, with reason, distinguished 
between these two things. They have required a degree of restraint and 
of continence from women that they do not require from men, because 
the violation of modesty presupposes in women a renunciation of all 
virtues, because a woman in violating the laws of marriage leaves her 
state of natural dependency, because nature has marked the infidelity 
of women by certain signs; besides, the bastard children of a wife 
belong necessarily to the husband and are the husband's burden, 
whereas the bastard children of a husband neither belong to his wife 
nor are her burden. 
22Beaumanoir, Couturnes de Beauvaisis, chap. 8 [#583]. 
23Law I, Code [Corpus Juris Civilis, Code 9.9.I]; ad legem Juliam de adulteriis et de stupro. 
24In France none of these things is known today. 
The things that should be ruled by the principles of civil 
right can rarely be ruled by principles of the laws of religion 
Religious laws are more sublime; civil laws are more extensive. 
The laws of perfection, drawn from religion, have for their object the 
goodness of the man who observes them, more than that of the society 
in which they are observed; civil laws, on the other hand, have for their 
purpose the moral goodness of men in general, more than that of 
Thus, however respectable may be the ideas which spring immedi- 
ately from religion, they should not always serve as principles for civil 
laws, because civil laws have another principle, which is the general 
good of society. 
In the Roman repulic, regulations were made in order to preserve 
the mores of women; these were political institutions. When the 
Things upon which the laws are to enact 
monarchy was established, they made civil laws about them, and they 
made them on the principles of the civil government. When the 
Christian religion arose, the new laws that were made had less relation 
to the general goodness of the mores than to the sanctity of marriage; 
there was less regard for the union of the two sexes in the civil state than 
in a spiritual state. 
At first, according to the Roman law 25 the husband who took his wife 
back to his house after she had been condemned for adultery was 
punished as an accomplice of her debauchery. In another spirit, 
Justinian z6 ordered that the husband could take her away from the 
convent within two years. 
When a woman whose husband was at war no longer received word 
of him, she could, in earlier times, easily remarry, because the power to 
divorce was in her hands. The law of Constantine 7 wanted her to wait 
four years, after which she could send the document for the divorce to 
the commander; and, therefore, if her husband came back, he could 
not accuse her of adultery. But Justinian 28 established that, however 
long it had been since the husband's departure, she could not remarry 
unless she proved the death of her husband by the deposition and oath 
of his commander. Justinian had in view the indissolubility of marriage, 
but one could say that he had it too much in view. He asked for a 
positive proof, when a negative proof sufficed; he required a very 
difficult thing, an account of the fate of a man far way, and exposed 
many accidents; he assumed a crime, that is, the desertion of the 
husband, when it was very natural to assume his death. His law ran 
counter to public good by leaving a woman unmarried; it ran counter to 
particular interest by exposing her to a thousand dangers. 
The law of Justinian 29 that put among the causes of divorce the 
consent of the husband and the wife to enter a monastery was entirely 
removed from the principles of the civil laws. It is natural for the origin 
of the causes of divorce to be in certain difficulties that one could not 
have foreseen before marriage, but the desire to stay chaste could have 
2SLaw x I, last para. [Corpus Juris Civilis, Digest 48.5.11 (x3)]; ad legemJuliatn de adulteriis 
Zt[CorpusJuris Civilis] Novellax I34 , chap. io [i34. io ]. 
27Law 7, Code [ Corpus Juris Civilis, Code 5.x7.7]; de repudiis et judicio de rnoffbus sublato. 
ZSA uthentica. Hodie quantiscumque [Corpus Juris Civilis, Novellae I 17, chap. i x; Code 5.17.7 ]; 
de repudiis etjudido de moribus sublato. [See Code 5.7.7, Scott's Eng. translation.] 
29Authentica. Quod Hodie, Code [Corpus Juris Civilis, Novellax  i7, chap. x x; Code 5.x7.9]; de 
repudiis etjudido de moribus sublato. [See Code 5.I7.7, Scott's Eng. translation.] 
5o2 5o3 
been envisaged because it is in ourselves. This law favors inconstancy 
in a state which is permanent by its nature; it runs counter to the 
fundamental principle of divorce which suffers the dissolution of one 
marriage only in the expectation of another; finally, even following 
along religious ideas, it succeeds only in giving victims, but not a 
sacrifice to god. 
In what case one rnustjbllow the civil law that permits and 
not the rdigious law thatrbids 
When a religion that forbids polygamy comes into a country in which it 
is permitted, one does not believe, speaking politically only, that the law 
of the country should permit a man with several wives to embrace this 
religion, unless the magistrate or the husband compensates the wives 
while returning them in some way to their civil state. Failing this, their 
condition would be deplorable; they would have but obeyed the laws 
and would find themselves deprived of the greatest advantages of 
That human tribunals must not be ruled by the maxims of 
the tribunals that regard the next li 
The tribunal of the Inquisition, formed by Christian monks along the 
idea of the tribunal of penance, is contrary to all good police. It has met 
with a general protest everywhere, and it would have given way to its 
contradictions, if those who wanted to establish it had not taken 
advantage of those very contradictions. 
This tribunal is unbearable in all governments. In monarchy, it can 
make only informers and traitors; in republics, it can form only 
dishonest people; in the despotic state, it is as destructive as the state. 
Things upon which the laws are to enact 
Continuation of the same subject 
One of the abuses of this tribunal is that, when two persons are accused 
of the same crime, the one who denies it is condemned to death and the 
one who confesses it avoids punishment. This is drawn from monastic 
ideas in which the one who denies appears to be unrepentant and 
damned and the one who confesses seems to be repentant and saved. 
But such a distinction cannot be the concern of human tribunals; 
human justice, which sees only acts, has only one pact with men, that of 
innocence; divine justice, which sees thoughts, has two pacts, that of 
innocence and that of repentance. 
In which case the laws of religion must bejbllowed 
in regard to marriages, and in which case the civil laws 
must bejbllowed 
It has happened, in all countries and all times, that religion has 
occupied itself with marriages. From the moment certain things were 
regarded as impure or illicit and were nevertheless necessary, religion 
has had to be called up in order to legitimate them in the one case and 
condemn them in others. 
On the other hand, as of all human acts marriage is the one that is of 
the most interest to society, it has certainly had to be ruled by civil laws. 
All that regards the character of marriage, its form, the way it is 
contracted, its fruitfulness, and all that has made every people under- 
stand that marriage is the object of a particular benediction which, as it 
was not always attached to it, depended on certain higher favors; all the 
above belongs to the spring of religion. 
The consequences of this union relative to goods, to reciprocal 
advantages, to all that is relative to the new family, the one from which it 
has come, and the one that will be born; all this concerns the civil laws. 
As one of the great objects of marriage is to remove all the 
uncertainties of illegitimate unions, religion impresses its character on 
it, and the civil laws join theirs to it so that it will have all the authenticity 
504 505 
possible. Thus, beyond the conditions demanded by religion for the 
marriage to be valid, civil laws can exact still others. 
What makes civil laws have this power is that these characteristics are 
ones that are added, not ones that are in conflict. The law of religion 
wants certain ceremonies, and the civil laws want the consent of the 
fathers; in this way they ask something more, but they ask nothing that 
is contrary to it. 
It follows that it is for the law of religion to decide whether or not the 
bond will be indissoluble; for if the laws of religion had established an 
indissoluble bond and the civil laws had ruled that it could be broken, 
these two things would be contradictory. 
Sometimes the Characteristics impressed on marriage by civil laws 
are not of an absolute necessity; such are the ones that are established 
by laws that, instead of annulling the marriage, have been satisfied to 
punish those who contracted it. 
Among the Romans, the Papian laws declared the marriages they 
prohibited unjust and only subjected them to penalties, 3° and the 
senams-consult rendered on the discourse of the emperor Marcus 
Antoninus declared them null; there was no longer a marriage, a wife, a 
dowry, or a husband. 3 Civil law determines according to circum- 
stances; sometimes it is more attentive to rectifying the ill, sometimes to 
preventing it. 
3°See what I have said above, in the book "On the Laws in their Relation to the Number of 
Inhabitants" [bk. 23], chap. 2 . 
31 See law 16 [ Corpus Juris Civilis, Digest 23.2.16]; de ritu nuptiarum, and law 3, para. x, also in 
the Digest [Corpus Juris Civilis, Digest 24. I.3.x ]; de donationibus inter virum et uxorem. 
In which cases of rnarriages between relatives 
must one be ruled by the laws of nature, and in which 
cases should one be ruled by civil laws 
In the matter of prohibiting marriage between relatives, it is a very 
delicate thing to set clearly the point at which the laws of nature cease 
and where the civil laws begin. For this, principles must be established. 
The marriage of a son with his mother confuses the state of things: 
the son owes an unlimited respect to his mother, the wife owes an 
Things upon which the laws are to enact 
unlimited respect to her husband; the marriage of a mother to her son 
would overturn the natural state of each of them. 
There is more: nature has set the time earlier for women to have 
children; it has set it later for men; and, for the same reason, the woman 
ceases earlier to have this faculty and the man later. If marriage 
between mother and son were permitted, it would almost always 
happen that, when the husband was able to take part in the aims of 
nature, the wife could no longer. 
Marriage between father and daughter is, like the preceding one, 
repugnant to nature, but it is less repugnant because it does not have 
these two obstacles. Thus, the Tartars, who can marry their 
daughters, 32 never marry their mothers, as we see in the accounts. 33 
It has always been natural for fathers to watch over the modesty of 
their children. As fathers are charged with the care of setfling them in 
life, they have had to preserve in them both the most perfect body and 
the least corrupt soul; all that can better inspire desires and all that most 
properly produces tenderness. Fathers, ever occupied in preserving the 
mores of their children, should be at a distance that is natural from 
everything that could corrupt them. One will say that marriage is not a 
corruption, but before marriage one must speak, one must make 
oneself loved, one must seduce; it is this seduction that should have 
inspired horror. 
Therefore, there has had to be an insurmountable barrier between 
those who should educate and those who should be educated, and any 
sort of corruption, even for legitimate cause, has had to be avoided. 
Why do fathers so carefully deprive of the company and intimacy of 
their daughters those who are to marry them? 
The horror of incest between brother and sister must have come 
from the same source. That fathers and mothers wanted to preserve the 
purity of the mores of their children and their houses is enough for 
them to have inspired their children with a horror of everything that 
could incline them to the union of the two sexes. 
The prohibition on marriage between first cousins has the same 
origins. In earliest times, that is, in holy times, in the ages when luxury 
32This law is quite ancient among them. Attila, says Priscus in his De legationibus, stops in a 
certain place to wed Esca, his daughter; "a thing permitted," he says, "by the law of the 
Scythians," p. 22 [Priscus, Fragments, 55c; P. x83, CSHB]. 
33 [E.bulgazi Bahadir Han, Khan ofKhorezm] Histoiregngalogique des Tatars, pt. 3, P. 256 [pt. 
2, chap. 2, "De la naissance du regne d'Ogus-Chan"; x, 36-37; 726 edn]. 
506 507 
Part 5 
was unknown, all the children stayed in the house 34 and settled there; 
this was because a large family needed only a small house. The children 
of two brothers, or first cousins, were regarded and regarded one 
another as brothers. 35 Therefore, the distance in regard to marriage 
was the same for first cousins as for brothers and sisters. 36 
These causes are so strong and so natural that they have acted almost 
everywhere on earth, independent of any communication. It was not 
the Romans who taught the Formosans 37 that marriage with their 
relatives in the fourth degree was incestuous; it was not the Romans 
who told this to the Arabs; 38 they did not teach it in the MaidiVes. 39 
But if certain peoples have not rejected marriages between fathers 
and their children between sisters and brothers, it has been seen in the 
first book that intelligent beings do not always follow their laws. Who 
would have thought that religious ideas have often made men fall into 
these errors! If the Assyrians and the Persians married their mothers, 
the former did so out of a religious respect for Semiramis, and the latter 
because the religion of Zoroaster gave preference to these marriages. 4° 
If Egyptians married their sisters, this was still another frenzy of the 
Egyptian religion, which consecrated these marriages in honor of Isis. 
As the spirit of religion is to lead us to exert effort to perform great and 
difficult things, a thing must not be judged natural for having been 
consecrated by a false religion. 
The principle that marriages between fathers and children, brothers 
and sisters, are forbidden in order to preserve a natural modesty in the 
house will help us discover which marriages are forbidden by natural 
law, and which can be forbidden only by civil law. 
As children live, or are supposed to live in the house of their father 
34Thus it was among the first Romans. 
35Indeed, among the Romans, they had the same name; first cousins were called 
36In earliest times in Rome cousins were kept from marrying until the people made a law 
permitting it; the people wanted to favor an extremely popular man, one who had married 
his first cousin. Plutarch [Moralia], Quaestiones Romanae [265d-e; question 6]. 
37Recueil des voyages qui ont semi d l'tablissement de la Compagnie des Indes, vol. 5, pt. x [Voyage 
de Seyger van Rechteren; "Relation de l'tat de lle de Formose," (crite par George 
Candidus); 5, 98, x7o6 edn; 5, x87; x725 edn]. 
38Koran, "On Women" [4.23]. 
39See Franqois Pyrard [Voyages, vol. x, chap. x2; x, x52; I887-1890 edn]. 
4°They were regarded as more honorable. See Philo Judaeus, De specialibus legibus, Paris, 
I64O, p. 778 [3.3 (chap. 3)]. 
Things upon which the laws are to enact 
and consequently the son-in-law with the mother-in-law, the father- 
in-law with the daughter-in-law or with the daughter of his wife, 
marriage between them is forbidden by the law of nature. In this case, 
the image has the same effect as the reality, because it has the same 
Cause; the civil law neither can nor should permit these marriages. 
There are peoples among whom, as I have said, first cousins are 
regarded as brothers because they usually live in the same house; there 
are some among whom this usage is hardly known. Among these 
former peoples, marriage between first cousins should be regarded as 
contrary to nature; among the latter, not. 
But laws of nature cannot be local laws. Thus, whether these 
marriages are forbidden or permitted, they are permitted or forbidden 
by a civil law according to the circumstances. 
The usage in which the brother-in-law and the sister-in-law live in 
the same house is not necessary. Therefore, marriage between them is 
not forbidden in order to preserve modesty in the house, and the law 
that permits or forbids it is not the law of nature, but a civil law which is 
regulated according to the circumstances and depends on usages in 
each country; these are cases in which the laws depend on mores and 
Civil laws prohibit marriages when, by the received usages of a 
certain country, they are in the same circumstances as those that are 
prohibited by the laws of nature, and they permit them when this is not 
the case. The prohibition made by the laws of nature is invariable 
because it depends on an unvarying thing; the father, the mother, and 
the children necessarily live in the same house. But the prohibitions of 
the civil laws are accidental because they depend on an accidental 
circumstance; that first cousins, and others, live in the same house is 
an accident. 
This explains how the laws of Moses, of the Egyptians, and of several 
other peoples 4 permit marriages between brother-in-law and sister- 
'in-law, whereas these same marriages are prohibited in other nations. 
In the Indies, there is a quite natural reason for admitting these sorts 
of marriages. The uncle there is regarded as a father, and he is obliged 
to support and establish his nephews as if they were his own children; 
this comes from the character of his people, which is good and full of 
See law 8 of the Code [Corpm Juris Civilis, Code 5.5.8]; de incestis et inutilibus nuptiis. 
5o8 5o9 
humanity. This law or this usage has produced an additional one: if a 
husband has lost his wife, he does not fail to marry her sister, 4z and this 
is very natural, for the new wife becomes the mother of her sister's 
children and there is no unjust stepmother. 
42Lettres idifiantes et curieuses, vol. 14, p. 403 [Lettre du P. Bouchet, Pondichry, October 2, 
I714; 14, 4o3; 172o edn]. 
That things that depend on principles of civil right must not 
be ruled by principles of political right 
As men have renounced their natural dependence to live under 
political laws, so have they renounced the natural community of goods 
to live under civil laws. 
These first laws acquire liberty for them; the second, property. What 
should be decided by the laws of property should not be decided by 
the laws of liberty which, as we have said, is the empire of the city alone. 
It is a fallacy to say that the good of the individual should yield to the 
public good; this occurs only when it is a question of the empire of the 
city, that is, of the liberty of the citizen; it does not occur when it is a 
question of the ownership of goods because it is always in the public 
good for each one to preserve invariably the property given him by the 
civil laws. 
Cicero held that the agrarian laws were deadly because the city was 
established only in order for each one to preserve his goods. 
Let us propose as a maxim that, when it is a question of the public 
good, it is never in the public good for an individual to be deprived of 
his goods, or even for the least part of them to be taken from him by a 
political law or regulation. In this case, it is necessary to observe strictly 
the civil law which is the palladium of property. 
Thus, when the public needs an individual's land, one must never 
act according to the strictness of political law; but this is when the civil 
law, which, with a mother's eyes, considers each individual as the whole 
city, should triumph. 
If the political magistrate wants to build some public edifice, some 
new road, he must pay compensation; in this regard the public is like an 
individual who deals with another individual. It is quite enough that the 
Things upon which the laws are to enact 
public can constrain a citizen to sell it his inheritance and that it takes 
away from him his great privilege under civil law, that he cannot be 
forced to alienate his goods. 
After the peoples who destroyed the Romans had abused even their 
conquests, the spirit of liberty called them back to that of fairness; they 
exercised the most barbarous rights with moderation; and if anyone 
doubts it, he has only to read the remarkable work by Beaumanoir, who 
wrote about jurisprudence in the twelfth century. 
In his time, highways were repaired as they are today. He says that, 
when a highway could not be restored, another was built as close as 
possible to the old one but that the property-owners were compensated 
at the expense of those who got some benefit from the road. 43 In those 
days the determination was made according to the civil law; today it is 
made according to the political law. 
43The lord named some men of experience and wisdom, des prud'homrnes, to impose the levy 
on the peasant; gentlemen were constrained by the count to make their contribution; the 
churchmen by the bishop. Beaumanoir [Coutumes de Beauvaisis], chap. 2z [#734]. 
That one must not decide by the rules of civil right when it 
is a matter to be decided by those of political right 
The basis for resolving all questions will be seen if one does not 
confuse the rules that derive from the property of the city with those 
that arise from the liberty of the city. 
Is the domain of a state alienable or is it not? This question should be 
decided by political law and not by civil law. It should not be decided by 
civil law because it is as necessary for there to be a domain for the 
sustenance of the state as it is for there to be civil laws in the state that 
regulate the disposition of goods. 
Therefore, if one alienates the domain, the state will be forced to 
make a new fund for another domain. But this expedient also overturns 
political government because, by the nature of the thing, the subject 
will pay ever more for each domain that is established and the sovereign 
will reap ever less; in, a word, domain is necessary and alienation is not. 
The order of succession, in monarchies, is founded on the good of 
5o 5xx 
the state, which requires that this order be fixed to avoid the mis- 
fortunes that I have said have to occur in despotisms where everything 
is uncertain because everything there is arbitrary. 
The order of succession in the reigning family is established not for 
its sake, but because it is in the interest of the state for there to be a 
reigning family. The law which regulates the inheritance of individuals 
is a civil law, which has for its purpose the interest of individuals; that 
which regulates succession to monarchy is a political law, which has for 
its purpose the good and the preservation of the state. 
It follows that, when the political law has established an order of 
succession in a state and this order ends, it is absurd to lay a claim to the 
succession by virtue of the civil law of whatever people it may be. A 
particular society does not make laws for another society. The civil laws 
of the Romans are no more applicable than any other civil laws; they did 
not employ them themselves when they judged the kings, and the 
maxims by which they judged the kings are so abominable that they 
must not be revived. 
It also follows that, when the political law makes a certain family 
renounce the succession, it is absurd to want to use restitutions drawn 
from the civil law. Restitutions are within the law and can be good 
against those who live within the law, but they are not good for those 
who have been established for the sake of the law and who live for the 
sake of the law. 
It is ridiculous to claim to decide the rights of kingdoms, nations, and 
the universe by the same maxims used to decide among individuals a 
right concerning a drain pipe, if I may use Cicero's expression. 44 
44[Cicero] De legibus, bk. x [x.4. i4]. 
Continuation of the same subject 
Ostracism should be examined by rules of political law and not by the 
rules of civil law; far from being able to stigmatize popular government, 
this usage is, on the contrary, quite apt for proving its gentleness; we 
would have sensed this if, in spite of exile's always being a penalty 
Things upon which the laws are to enact 
among ourselves, we had been able to separate the idea of ostracism 
from that of being punished. 
Aristotle tells us 45 that everyone agrees that this practice has 
something human and popular about it. If, in the times and places one 
exercised this judgment, it was not found odious, is it for us, who see 
things from such a distance, to think otherwise than did the accusers, 
the judges, and even the accused? 
And, if one pays attention to the fact that this judgment of the people 
filled with glory the one against whom it was rendered, that, when it had 
been abused in Athens by being used against a man without merit, 46 its 
use ceased at that moment, 47 one will surely see that one has had a false 
idea of it and that it was a remarkable law which prevented the bad 
effects of a citizen's glory by heaping a new glory on him. 
45 [Aristotle, Politics] Republic, bk. 3, chap. 13 [1284a17-22]. [M. usually cites this work as 
Politique; here he uses Rf'publique.] 
46Hyperbolus. See Plutarch [Vit.],Aristides [7.3-4]. 
47 It was contrary to the spirit of the legislator. 
That one must examine whether laws that appear to be 
contradictory are of the same order 
In Rome the husband was permitted to lend his wife to another. 
Plutarch tells us this explicitly; 48 it is known that Cato lent his wife to 
Hortensius, 49 and Cato was not a man to violate the laws of his country. 
On the other hand, a husband who suffered the debauchery of his 
wife, who did not give her over to judgment, or who took her back after 
the condemnation, was punished. 5° These laws appear contradictory 
and are not. The law permitting a Roman to lend his wife is manifestly a 
Lacedaemonian institution, established to give the republic children of 
a certain breeding, a if I dare use this term; the purpose of the other was 
48 Plutarch [Vit.], Comp. Lycurgus & Numa [3. I ]. 
49plutarch [ISt.], Cato the Younger [25.4-5]. This occurred in our time, says Strabo 
[Geographica], bk. i I [I 1.9. I ]. 
5°Law i i [ Corpus Juds Civilis, Digest 48.5.I 1(13)]; ad legem Juliam de adulteriis coercindis. 
a bonne espbce. 
5 12 513 
to preserve the mores. The first was a political law; the second, a civil 
That things that should be decided by domestic laws 
must not be decided by the civil laws 
The Law of the Visigoths wanted slaves to be obligated to tie up the 
man and woman they surprised in adultery 51 and to present them to the 
husband and the judge: a terrible law which put in the hands of these 
mean persons the care of public, domestic, and individual vengeance! 
This law would be good only in the seraglios of the east, where the 
slave in charge of the enclosure has broken his trust as soon .as the 
women break theirs. He checks criminals, less to have them judged 
than to have himself judged and to see whether one might lose one's 
suspicion that he was negligent in a search into the circumstances of the 
But in countries where women are not under guard, it is senseless for 
civil law to subject those who govern the house to the inquisition of 
their slaves. 
That inquisition could be at the very most, in certain cases, a 
particular domestic law and never a civil law. 
5Lex Wisigothorum, bk. 3, tit. 4, para. 6 [3.4.6]. 
things that belong to the right of nations must not be 
decided by the principles of civil laws 
Liberty consists principally in not being forced to do a thing that the law 
does not order, and one is in this state only because one is governed by 
civil laws; therefore, we are free because we live under civil laws. 
It follows that princes, who do not live under civil laws among 
themselves, are not free; they are governed by force, and they can 
continually force or be forced. From this it follows that the treaties they 
Things upon which the laws are to enact 
have made by force are as obligatory as those they may have made 
willingly. When we, who live under civil laws, are constrained to make 
some contract not required by law, we can, with the favor of the law, 
recover from the violence; but a prince, who is always in this state of 
forcing or being forced, cannot complain of a treaty that violence has 
had him make. It is as if he complained of his natural state; it is as if he 
wanted to be a prince in regard to other princes and wanted the other 
princes to be citizens in regard to him; that is, as if he wanted to run 
counter to the nature of things. 
That things that belong to the right of nations must not 
decided by political laws 
Political laws require that every man be subject to the criminal and civil 
tribunals of the country in which he lives and to the animadversion of 
the sovereignty. 
The right of nations has wanted princes to send ambassadors to 
each other, and reason, drawn from the nature of the thing, has not 
permitted these ambassadors to depend on the sovereign to whom 
they are sent or on his tribunals. They speak for the prince who sends 
them, and that speech should be free. No obstacle should prevent them 
from acting. They can often displease because they speak for an 
independent man. One might impute crimes to them, if they could be 
punished for crimes; one might assume they had debts, if they could be 
seized for debts. A prince who has a natural pride would speak through 
the mouth of a man who would have everything to fear. Therefore, with 
regard to ambassadors the reasons drawn from the right of nations 
must be followed, and not those derived from political right. For if they 
abuse their status as a representative, b this is stopped by sending them 
home; one can even accuse them before their master, who becomes in 
this way their judge or their accomplice. 
a leur gtre reprsentatif 
54 55 
unhappy lot of the Inca Atahualpa 
The principles we have just established were cruelly violated by the 
Spanish. The Inca Atahualpa could be judged only by the right of 
nations; 5z they judged him by political and civil laws. They accused him 
of having put some of his subjects to death, of having had several wives, 
etc. And the height of stupidity was that they did not condemn him by 
the political and civil laws of his country, but by the political and civil 
laws of their own. 
5z See Garcilaso de la Vega, El Inca [Royal Commentaries of the Incas and General History of 
Peru], p. lO8 [pt. 2, bk. I, chap. 37; 2, 713-714; 1966 edn]. 
That when, by some circumstances, the political law destroys 
the state, decisions must be made by the political law that 
preserves it, which sometimes becomes a right of nations 
When the political law, which has established in the state a certain 
order of succession, becomes destructive of the political body for which 
it was made, there must be no doubt that another political law can 
change that order; and far from that same law being in opposition to the 
first, it will be at bottom entirely in conformity with it, because both will 
depend on this principle: T a E W E L L - B E I N G O F T H E P E O P L E I S 
I have said that a great state 53 that became secondary to another 
would be weakened and even weaken the principal one. It is known that 
the state has an interest in having its leader at home, that public 
revenues should be well administered, and that its money should not go 
out to enrich another country. It is important for the one who should 
govern not to be imbued with foreign maxims; they suit less than those 
already established; moreover, men care prodigiously for their laws and 
53See above, bk. 5, chap. I4; bk. 8, chaps. i6, i7, i8, I9 and 20; bk. 9, chaps. 4, 5, 6 and 7; 
tik. I o, chaps. 9 and I o. 
Things upon which the laws are to enact 
their customs; these make the felicity of every nation; it is rare for them 
to be changed without great upsets and a great shedding of blood, as is 
shown in the histories of all countries. 
It follows that, if a great state has for heir the possessor of a great 
state, the former can quite well exclude him because it is useful to both 
states to change the order of succession. Thus, the Russian law made at 
the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth quite prudently ruled out any 
heir who possessed another monarchy; thus, the Portuguese law rejects 
any foreigner who would be called to the crown by the right of blood. 
But, if a nation can exclude, it has, with even stronger reason, the 
right to require renunciation of the throne. If it fears that a certain 
marriage will have consequences that can make it lose its independence 
or divide it, this nation Will be quite able to require those contracting 
the marriage and their offspring to renounce all the rights they would 
have over the nation; both the one who renounces and those in favor of 
whom one renounces will be the less able to complain, as the state 
could have made a law to exclude them. 
That the regulations of a police are of another 
than the other civil laws 
There are criminals whom the magistrate punishes; there are others 
whom he corrects; the former are subject to the power of the law, the 
others to its authority; the former are withdrawn from society, one 
obliges the latter to live according to the rules of society. 
In the exercise of the police it is the magistrate who punishes rather 
than the law; in the judgments of crimes it is the law that punishes 
rather than the magistrate. Matters of police are things of every instant, 
which usually amount to but little; scarcely any formalities are needed. 
The actions of the police are quick and the police is exerted over things 
that recur every day; therefore, major punishments are not proper to it. 
It is perpetually busy with details; therefore, great examples do not fit it. 
It has regulations rather than laws. The people who belong to it are 
constantly under the eyes of the magistrates; therefore, it is the fault of 
the magistrate if they fall into excess. Thus, one must not confuse great 
516 5x7 
violations of the laws with the simple violation of the police; these 
things are of different orders. c 
From this it follows that one has not conformed to the nature of 
things in that Italian republic 54 where bearing firearms is punished as a 
capital crime and where it is no more dangerous to make bad use of 
them than to bear arms. 
It also follows that the much-praised action of the emperor who had 
a baker impaled whom he had caught engaging in fraud is the act of a 
sultan who knows how to be just only by carrying justice itself to excess. 
CHere Montesquieu offers a description of the police. 
Tha, t one must notJbllow the general provisions of the civil 
right when it is a question of things that should be subjected 
to particular rules drawn flora their own nature 
Is it a good law that all the civil obligations incurred among sailors on a 
boat in the course of a voyage should be null? Franqois Pyrard tells us 
that in his time this was not observed by the Portuguese, but that it was 
by the French? People who are together for only a short while, who 
have no needs because the prince provides for them, who can have but 
one purpose, which is that of their voyage, who are no longer in society 
but are citizens of the ship, should not contract obligations that have 
been introduced only to support the burdens of civil society. 
It is in this same spirit that the law of the Rhodians, made for a time 
when one still sailed along the coasts, wanted those who remained in 
the vessel during a storm to have the ship and the cargo and those who 
abandoned it to have nothing. 
$5 [Franqois Pyrard, Voyages] chap. x4, pt. x2 [vol. 2, pt. x, chap. 4; 2, x88; I887-x890 edn].